Read On!

Mrs. Farquharson’s musings about books for children and young adults

Thank You, Norman Bridwell


SLJ1302w_Clifford_MAINPORTRAITClifford the Big Red Dog was first published in 1963 by Scholastic, and it has remained in publication ever since. Numerous other Clifford titles have joined this first treasure written by Norman Bridwell. The beloved author passed away in December 2014.

When Bridwell talked about his school years in a Scholastic interview, he said, “I always liked to draw, but I was never considered very good. In school there was always someone better than me; the art teacher always liked their work better than mine. Teachers didn’t like my writing either.”

After school, as he was struggling to be an illustrator, a publisher suggested that he write his own book to go with his drawings, and Clifford was born. Bridwell said that as a child, he had a fantasy of owning a really big dog. In his first book, he decided to exaggerate Clifford’s size to match how affectionate and eager-to-please he truly was. The author also admitted that Clifford’s color was quite by chance because he happened to have a jar of red paint on his desk when he first drew him.

Bridwell wanted to name the dog Tiny. His wife convinced him to use the name Clifford, the name of her own imaginary friend from her childhood. In the books, Clifford’s owner is Emily Elizabeth, the Bridwell’s daughter’s name.

PBS further immortalized Clifford with his own television series. Their Clifford website is entertaining for young children.

(Photo of Bridwell with Clifford from School Library Journal February 2013)

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