Famed children’s author Robert D. San Souci has died at the age of 68 after a fall that resulted in a head injury.
San Souci wrote more than 100 books, including many about ghosts, and the best-sellers "Fa Mulan: The Story of a Woman Warrior," which inspired the Disney movie "Mulan," and "Two Bear Cubs: A Miwok Legend from California's Yosemite Valley," a version of an old Miwok Indian tale about Yosemite Valley.
Friends found the author unresponsive on Dec. 19 at his San Francisco apartment after he missed a lunch date with them.
San Souci often worked with his younger brother, Daniel San Souci, an illustrator. The two were close and shared the same birthday.
Daniel said he was shocked at the news of his brother's death. The two had been making plans for Robert to join Daniel and his family in Oakland for Christmas dinner.
“Working with Bob,” Daniel said, “it was the most wonderful process. I think he was a fixture at the Bancroft Library in Berkeley researching his books. And anytime he came upon something that would be useful to me, or the other illustrators he worked with, he would send us this whole package to help us with visualizing the characters.”
San Souci’s stories often featured strong female Native American and African-American characters. Daniel says he thinks his brother developed that focus when the two were kids growing up in Berkeley.
“There would be a whole group of us who would go to the Oaks Theatre (on Solano Avenue) all the time," he said. "And everyone was always cheering when the cavalry came and the bugle was calling, except Bob. Bob was always for the Indians. And it was because he was doing so much reading about Native Americans at the time.
“He always felt a lot of people were getting shortchanged, and people should be enlightened, and there was no better way to do this than start off when people were kids. And so I think he just did a lot of good.”
Daniel San Souci says he’ll soon announce plans for a memorial to his brother to be held sometime in February or March.