Tributes have poured in after the news that renowned literary reviewer Robert Dunbar has died, with Oliver Jeffers, Derek Landy, Eoin Colfer, Marita Conlon-McKenna, Kate Thompson, Patrick Ness among the many who are mourning the loss of the champion of Ireland’s children’s literature.
His lasting legacy is not that of a reviewer though, it is that of a teacher, and he will be fondly remembered by the hundreds of children to whom he introduced the very best of Irish children’s literature and his distinctive white beard and red duffle coat will be very much missed by his peers, friends and family.
Not only was Robert a well known reviewer of children’s literature for The Irish Times for more than 27 years, he also lectured in English and children’s literature, and presented a weekly radio programme on children’s books. With his striking white beard and his ever present red duffle coat he became known as the Father Christmas of children’s literature and was an instantly recognisable figure in the literary world.
He is credited with taking Irish children’s literature from merely local interest and on to achieving global success with such notable titles as Darren Shan’s horror series, Eoin Colfer’s Artemis Fowl, and of course John Boyne’s world famous The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas being some of his greatest achievements.
The video below is of author of the Mortal Engines Quartet Philip Reeve in conversation with Robert Dunbar in 2010.
Robert passed away in the early hours of July 23rd at the age of 76 after a long illness.