THE celebrated children’s author and illustrator behind the famous Gumdrop titles has died.

Val Biro, 92, was best known as the creator of the Gumdrop book series – stories about a car with human characteristics.

Biro first penned ‘Gumdrop: The Adventures of a Vintage Car’ in 1966 based on his passion for his own 1926 Austin 12-4.

The book told the tale of how Gumdrop, the car, had been stolen and crashed by burglars and had parts removed by unsavoury characters.

It became a success and more than 35 picture books followed the initial publication, including Gumdrop Forever (1988), Gumdrop and the Martians (1998) and Gumdrop’s School of Adventure (2001).

Talented Biro, from Bosham, near Chichester, also wrote and illustrated traditional stories including Tales From the Arabian Nights (2013).

He illustrated other authors’ books and worked closely with HE Todd, weaving his magic on 14 of his titles including The Sick Cow (1974) and The Sleeping Policeman (1988).

Additionally, Biro spent 21 years illustrating for the Radio Times and was a frequent contributor to Country Life and The Field.

He was born Balint Stephen Biro in Budapest. In 1939 his father sent him to the Central School of Art in London and studied illustration.

He graduated in 1942 and worked as an ambulance driver while working in the design aspect of publishing – first for Sylvan Press and later as art director at John Lehmann.