Illustrator and author Eric Hill, whose Spot the Dog books have sold more than 60 million copies, has died aged 86.

In a statement, his family said they would miss him "immensely".

They said: "Although this time of loss is a great hardship for us, we can honestly say that we take some solace in the joy he brought to so many children and families through his work.

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"We know Spot, and therefore Eric, has had a beloved presence in so many homes and bedtime readings."

His publisher, Puffin Books, confirmed that Hill, who was born in Holloway, north London, died at his home in California after a short illness.

Francesca Dow, who runs Penguin's children's division, said: "Eric Hill was a master of simple design. He created one of the world's most loveable children's book characters — Spot, the charming, naughty, playful puppy, loved and appreciated across the world.

"Eric's ingenious lift-the-flap device turned the reading of a Spot book into a glorious game of hide and seek, enjoyed by children and adults alike."

Hill started out as an errand boy in an illustration studio and worked in advertising before creating the best-selling puppy-dog picture books. He moved to the US with his family in the 1980s. He is survived by his wife and two children.