ARUEGO--Jose Illustrator, author, calligrapher, father. He died peacefully on August 9th - his 80th birthday. Jose Aruego's 82 books for children enchanted a generation of young readers, and critics as well. Working with his wife and long-time collaborator Ariane Dewey, he created a world of joyful animals so full of life that one reviewer termed his style "illustrative mime." His characters were spare of line, while still being wonderfully expressive and vivacious. Among their best-known books are "Whose Mouse Are You?", "Leo the Late Bloomer" and "Gregory the Terrible Eater." Jose's artistic career was even more remarkable because he was supposed to be a lawyer. He graduated from law school at the University of the Philippines and passed the bar, but his true passion lay in the arts. He came to New York City in 1956 and studied at Parsons School of Design. Jose's career took off when he began penning cartoons. Many were published in the The New Yorker and The Saturday Evening Post. A couple even appeared on "The Ed Sullivan Show." Jose and Ariane's first book was published in 1969. He brought his work to life in lectures at elementary schools around the country. Long days in classrooms and auditoriums were made longer by his insistence on sketching a character into every book he signed and teaching students to draw his alligators. Later in life, Jose took up calligraphy and excelled in that as well. Jose's love of travel brought him around the world. Since Jose was such a private person, there will be no funeral service. A memorial will be held in the fall. Jose is survived by his son Juan, the rest of his family and the untold number of people he touched through his art, his quiet charm and his deafening joie de vie. We miss you.
Published in The New York Times on Aug. 14, 2012