Craig Virden.

Craig Virden, former head of children’s books at Random House, died on Wednesday, May 6, of a pulmonary embolism. He was 56.

Virden began his career at Curtis Brown Ltd. in 1975. He moved to Scholastic in 1979 and then worked in advertising at BBDO, returning to publishing in 1988 as associate publisher of Delacorte Press. In 1998, he was named president and publisher of the Random House Books for Young Readers group. He left the company in 2002. Since then he cofounded the Lookybook Web site, and recently joined his wife as a literary agent at the Nancy Gallt Agency.

A memorial service will take place on Wednesday, May 27, at 4:30 p.m. in St. Peter’s Church at 619 Lexington Ave. in New York City.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Virden's memory to mothers2mothers, a sustainable model of education, support and advocacy to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV. (To donate, click on "How to Help"; a donation acknowledgment can be requested and sent to the family.)