Children’s book authorRonald King-Smith

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His first career was 20 years as a farmer. His second, teacher. King-Smith says he was a “complete failure” at both professions. But in his 50s, he turned to writing children’s books, and found his calling: he wrote more than 100 books under the name Dick King-Smith, selling more than 15 million copies combined, usually based on farm themes. His sixth was his most famous: The Sheep-Pig, about a piglet that was “adopted” by a dog, and became a sheep herder. It was published in the U.S. under the title Babe: The Gallant Pig, and was made into a feature film with an even simpler title: Babe. The 1995 movie was not only a major hit, it was nominated for seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture (it lost that honor to Braveheart, but won an Oscar for best visual effects), and spawned a sequel (Babe: Pig in the City). “It’s something I may have to see my psychiatrist about but, yes, I have a real soft spot for pigs,” King-Smith once said — before admitting he also loved bacon. King-Smith, who received the OBE a year ago, died at home near Bath, England, on January 4. He was 88.

From This is True for 9 January 2011