Niki Daly obituary

by | Jan 23, 2024 | IBBY NEWS

Niki Daly wears a salmon colored shirt and blue bandana standing in front of a wooden door. He smiles at the camera with his glasses perched low on his nose.

IBBY UK were immensely saddened to hear of the death of Niki Daly. This obituary is written by his friend and fellow writer/illustrator Dianne Hofmeyr. IBBY UK bids farewell to Niki Daly who passed away on 15th January, aged 77.

Niki Daly was not just an illustrator but a storyteller who captured the imagination of children worldwide. Short-listed for the Hans Christian Andersen Prize and nominated recently for the Astrid Lindgren Award, his books are a testament to his irrepressible spirit and mischievous wit. Through sparkling text and his fresh approach to colour and line, and a knack for pinning down small domestic details, he gave the world stories imbued not only with joy but humanity… stories that bridged multi-generational gaps… a little boy buying a new pair of shoes with his grandmother, a girl tap-dancing alongside her beloved grandfather, a young herdboy daring to dream of a big future, an exuberant boy getting lost on a beach, the delightful Jamela teetering around in her mother’s red shoes wrapped in her mother’s precious cloth… stories that turn everyday experiences into the extraordinary. Niki’s innate ability was to capture the essence of a child no matter what their nationality.

His many friends from around the world will miss him. Just like the Papa carrying his son, in his last book On My Papa’s Shoulders, he lifted the world of children’s books to new heights and created realms that show us a fresh world full of hope and love. I never left his home next to the sea in Kleinmond, South Africa, without feeling inspired and re-energised. Even during his illness, he filled his days with creativity, making origami characters and
sketchbooks for his granddaughter and kept up lively conversations on Instagram. We are all privileged and richer for having Niki in our world. His books will continue to touch children’s lives for a long time to come. I can only believe Niki soared off on a beat of powerful wings… just as his eagle in Fly Eagle Fly.

To his wife, Jude, also an illustrator, and his family, we send our condolences.

Di Hofmeyr