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Posted at 1:19 PM ET, 01/ 5/2011

Dick King-Smith, author of "Babe: The Gallant Pig," dies

By Emma Brown
Emma Brown

Dick King-Smith, a British farmer-turned-writer whose beloved children's book "The Sheep-Pig" -- better known in the U.S. as "Babe: The Gallant Pig" -- was later turned into a popular movie, has died.

Mr. King-Smith died yesterday at his home in southwest England. He was 88.

Mr. King-Smith had written more than 100 books but was probably best known for inventing Babe, an intelligent pig who learns how to herd sheep.

"Babe," the movie based on Mr. King-Smith's book, was a surprise hit when it was released in 1995. Writing in The Washington Post, film critic Desson Howe called it a "barnyard charmer, with a great supporting flock of animatronic animals."

babe.jpg

The movie was nominated for seven Oscars, including best picture, best director (Chris Noonan) and best supporting actor (James Cromwell as the kind-eyed Farmer Hoggett). (It won one, for best visual effects.)

Mr. King-Smith had turned to writing in his 50s after working for 20 years as a farmer and then as a teacher. He called his favored genre "farmyard fantasy."

His titles included "The Fox Busters" (1978), his first; "The Queen's Nose," which became a BBC television series that ran for several years in the 1990s and 2000s; and "The Water Horse," which was turned into a 2007 feature film.

In an interview posted on his publisher's website, he said he wrote about animals because "I've always kept them, I'm interested in them, I know a bit about them, and I know that children like them."

Plus, he said, "it's such fun putting words into their mouths."

(Photo courtesy Universal Pictures)

By Emma Brown  | January 5, 2011; 1:19 PM ET
Categories:  Emma Brown, Movies  
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