(Beaver Dam) A popular children’s book author and illustrator from Beaver Dam has passed away. Lois Ehlert was the illustrator of the 1989 book Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, which sold 12 million copies. Her publisher Simon and Schuster says Ehlert, who lived in Milwaukee, died of natural causes on Tuesday at the age of 86.
Radio station personnel learned of Ehlert’s passing during WBEV’s Break Time program on Thursday. Co-host Rick Armon was not only saddened to learn that she died but was also not aware Ehlert was a Beaver Dam-native. Armon explained that he reads Chicka Chicka Boom Boom to his grandchildren “all the time” and then began reciting passages from the book from memory.
“A told B and B told C, I’ll beat you to the top of the coconut tree, chicka chicka boom boom,” he lamented.
Listeners were quick to chime in as well. One caller recounted that Ehlert used to babysit him in the mid-1960’s.
“She actually used to read me bedtime stories and I wonder if [her books] would have been part of them,” he said, “She had the funnest games, her mom Gladys – for whatever reason – collected yard sticks and Lois and I would set up the yard sticks all through the house and run our little Hot Wheel cars.”
“Lois Ehlert was in my graduating class 1953 at Beaver Dam High School,”said Gloria Waddell of Beaver Dam. When asked if they were friends, Waddell noted the high school back then was in what is now the much-smaller middle school.
“We were grades seven through 12 there so you knew everybody,” she reminisced.
Also announced this week, children’s book author Eric Carle died on Sunday. He wrote The Very Hungry Caterpillar, which featured collage-style artwork similar to that of Ehlert.
Photo courtesy of the Mooney family