Brian Jacques, whose Redwall series, set in the mythical Redwall Abbey, has sold more than 20 million copies, died last Saturday of a heart attack. He was 71.
The 22nd and final book in the Redwall series, The Rogue Crew, will be published in May by Philomel, a Penguin Young Readers Group imprint.
Philomel president and publisher Michael Green noted that Jacques "initially wrote Redwall to entertain the children at Liverpool's Royal Wavertree School for the Blind, where he would read aloud, giving voice to the many accents, giving aroma and flavor to the famous Redwall Abbey feasts, and giving life to a world in which mice and hares were heroes to the end. The world has lost not only a talented author, but a truly gifted entertainer and champion of children."
Jacques was born in Liverpool, England. Penguin said that his interest in adventure stories began in childhood, when he read the works of Daniel Defoe, Sir Henry Rider Haggard, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Robert Louis Stevenson and Edgar Rice Burroughs. One of his favorites was The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Graham.
BBC noted that Jacques showed literary talent at an early age (and we're lucky he survived a teacher's reaction): "He was caned by a teacher who could not believe that a 10-year-old could write so well when he penned a short story about a bird who cleaned a crocodile's teeth."