(Adds cause of death and where author died)
NEW YORK, July 16 (Reuters) - Donald J. Sobol, best known for his popular "Encyclopedia Brown" detective series of children's books, has died. He was 87.
Sobol, the author of dozens of fiction and nonfiction books but was mostly celebrated for his engaging mystery books, died last week in South Miami, Florida, pu blisher Penguin said in a statement on Monday. He died of natural causes after a brief illness.
"Thanks to Donald, generations of children have learned to read and solve mysteries alongside Encyclopedia Brown, one of the most iconic characters in children's literature," Don Weisberg, president of Penguin Young Readers Group, said in the statement.
Sobol's "Encyclopedia Brown" series began in 1963. In each book the amateur boy detective Leroy "Encyclopedia" Brown, a brainy young whiz, solves about 10 different short mysteries. The series has since influenced other children's mystery authors and was turned into a 1989 TV series.
The latest installment, "Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Soccer Scheme," will be published in October. The series has been translated into 12 languages and has sold millions of copies worldwide, according to Penguin.
The New York City-born author, who started out as reporter for the New York Sun newspaper, began writing mysteries in 1957 and also penned the "Wacky" series and the "Two Minute Mysteries" popular syndicated column featuring a character who solved crimes.
He won several awards during his writing career, including the Edgar Award for his contribution to mystery writing in the United States.
He is survived by his wife, a sister, three children and four grandchildren. (Reporting By Christine Kearney; Editing by Richard Chang and Leslie Adler)