‘Clifford’ Creator Norman Bridwell Dies

The author/illustrator of the children’s books ‘Clifford the Big Red Dog’ has passed away.

By Cari Jorgensen | Posted: December 17, 2014, 10:30 a.m. PST

Fifty-two years ago a big red dog named Clifford was born. He was awkward and clumsy, but also caring and kind. He brought joy not only to Emily, his human companion in the series, but also to children around the world. Sadly, Norman Bridwell, the man who wrote and illustrated the "Clifford the Big Red Dog” series, passed away last Friday. He was 86.

The initial idea for Clifford came to Bridwell as a child, when all he wanted was a dog big enough to ride like a horse. Later, when he began creating the giant dog, he remembered that and incorporated it into his children’s book. He was going to call the dog Tiny, but after hearing his wife Norma’s opinion, he let her name him. She chose Clifford, which was the name of her childhood imaginary friend. As for making him red, well, Bridwell said in the interview above that he had some red paint in a jar and thought "I’ll make him a little different.” Children, he said, are drawn to the bright red dog.

He wasn’t wrong.

Bridwell wrote over 150 books in the "Clifford” series, with two more – "Clifford Goes to Kindergarten” and "Clifford Celebrates Hanukkah” – being published posthumously by Scholastic in 2015. There are over 129 million copies of the "Clifford” books and they’re available in 13 languages, according to Scholastic. "Clifford’ even became an animated PBS show and items in his likeness are available for purchase. All of that success and Bridwell’s first "Clifford” book was rejected by nine publishers before being picked up by Scholastic.

Clifford allows children to be themselves. He makes mistakes. He’s forgiven. Characters in the stories are diverse and everyone is included. I think children need a character they can relate to, one like Clifford who helps them learn right from wrong, but delivers that message in a way they understand.

What child could resist a big red dog?

Norma Bridwell said of herself and Norman in 2012, "We’re both getting to the point where we’re thinking about what happens beyond our own lifetime and we know that Clifford will continue to live.”

Yes, he will.

Do you or your children have a favorite "Clifford” book? Share it with us in the comments below.

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Emily - 174544   Milbank, SD

12/27/2014 8:50:32 PM

I loved reading all the books! There were 2 series on PBS. One was Clifford's puppy days.

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Eileen - 249708   Port Perry, ON

12/18/2014 7:16:37 AM

I really liked the Clifford Books.

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