View Full Version : Norman Bridwell, Creator of ‘Clifford the Big Red Dog’ Books, Dies at 86

December 24th, 2014, 04:55 PM
By BRUCE WEBER (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/w/bruce_weber/index.html)DEC. 16, 2014
As a boy, Norman Bridwell fantasized about having a dog big enough for his loving owner to ride.
His 1963 book led to dozens of titles and inspired an animated television series and a movie.
Credit Charles Sykes/Associated Press

Norman Bridwell, the creator of Clifford the Big Red Dog, a figure who
looms as large in toddler lit as the great white whale does in the American canon,
died on Friday in Oak Bluffs, Mass., on Martha’s Vineyard. He was 86.

Kyle Good, a spokeswoman for Scholastic Books, which over the past
half-century has published dozens of Clifford titles by Mr. Bridwell,
confirmed his death without specifying a cause. Mr. Bridwell’s wife of
56 years, Norma, told The Associated Press that he had prostate cancer
and that he had been in the hospital for three weeks after a fall at his
Martha’s Vineyard home in Edgartown.

Mr. Bridwell (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5tLKgsaZoNQ) was an out-of-work commercial artist living in New York City
when he sold the idea for a single book about a dog big enough for his
loving owner, a little girl, to ride. That had been his own fantasy as a
little boy, he said.

In the actual drawing of the book, Clifford turned out close to the size of
a house. He was an affectionate, slightly clumsy, eager-to-help creature
who had flaws — he had a tendency to dig up flowers, among other
things — and caused problems. But he was nonetheless the embodiment
of kindness and amiability, a four-legged, wet-nosed, bright red lesson in
learning to get along with others.

His choice of color, Mr. Bridwell explained, was serendipitous: A jar of red paint
happened to be situated on his desk on the day he first drew a picture of a little
girl and a big dog. He wanted to name the dog Tiny, though his wife, Norma,
discouraged the obvious joke and named him Clifford, after an imaginary friend
from her childhood. The little girl who owned him, Emily Elizabeth, was named
for their infant daughter.
The “Clifford” books became a read-aloud literary staple.
Credit Scholastic

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