If ever you shared with your child such books as “Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile” or “Lyle Finds His Mother” you easily recognize Bernard’s name.
If you don’t recognize Bernard or Lyle, Lyle was a big loveable cartoon crocodile who lived on the Upper East Side of New York in the Victorian brownstone home of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph F. Primm and their little boy Joshua.
In the first Lyle book, “The House on East 88th Street,” the family discovered Lyle, who is big and green and fun loving, living in the bathroom of their new home.
Over various Lyle books, Lyle and his buddy Joshua learn to ice skate, jump rope and have many adventures together in a long running series of stories that captured reader’s hearts.
In all, Lyle and other of Bernard’s characters so captivated readers, that to date, Bernard has sold a remarkable 1.75 million copies of his 33 books.
Yet this is an unlikely story of an unlikely author, for Bernard didn’t start to become a successful author until he was 41 years of age.
As a young man, Bernard studied accounting and seemed destined to become an accountant until World War ll intervened.
After serving in the Army, Bernard dropped accounting and enrolled in the Philadelphia College of Art, and then the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. Afterward, he moved to New York and became an illustrator for various magazines.
Meanwhile, hoping to become a writer, Bernard kept submitting drafts of his work to publishers, including Lyle’s stories. Everyone rejected them.
But in 1962, when Bernard was 41, at long last a publisher said yes, and soon “The House on East 88th Street” was in bookstores. Since then, Bernard's books have been immensely popular.
But at the age of 91, on May 16th, 2013 Bernard passed away in his Baldwin, New York home.
His survivors include his wife of 52 years, the former Ethel Bernstein, their daughter Paulis Waber, who with her father in 2010, wrote and illustrated “Lyle Walks the Dogs.” And additionally, Bernard is survived by another daughter Louisa, and a son Gary, as well as by four grandchildren.
But Bernard is also survived by his 33 books and his vast number of readers, and those readers continue in ever growing numbers.
And perhaps through Paulis, there may be new Lyle books yet to be written and shared, with generations to come.