Bridwell, Norman. Clifford the Big Red Dog. New York: Scholastic, 1963.
Do you know this book? While it is an older book, I think Clifford is still a terrific character. Yes, Clifford is big and red. He is a good friend to a small girl named Emily Elizabeth. Emily Elizabeth says that he is the biggest, reddest dog on her street. I don’t know about the reddest, but he is the biggest dog on any street and perhaps in the world. How big is he? He is as big as Emily Elizabeth’s house! Where does he get a bath, in the swimming pool!! Clifford loves to play games with Emily Elizabeth! In Hide and Seek she is an excellent hider, while Clifford is always found. I wonder why? When Clifford begs, Emily Elizabeth must climb to the attic and use a window there to give him his reward. Chasing cars for Clifford is problematical, as sometimes he catches them. It makes the driver, very angry! I wonder why? He also runs after cats. Emily Elizabeth can’t take him to the zoo, can you imagine why? Clifford is a very special dog and Emily Elizabeth wouldn’t trade him!
My girls loved reading about Clifford. It was wonderful to give them this reading experience. Children with disabilities need reading experiences as well. Here is a link to an article on bringing literacy to life with story boxes: http://www.pathstoliteracy.org/blog/bringing-literacy-life-through-storyboxes. Story boxes are a great way to bring stories alive for children with visual impairments. This article provides an example of how to make another Clifford story, Clifford’s Bedtime, accessible for children with disabilities.
Norman decided to keep it all in the family. Clifford was names after his wife’s childhood imaginary friend and Clifford’s friend and companion was named after Bridwell’s daughter, Emily Elizabeth.
Norman was born in Kokomo, Indiana! I lived there for a year and never realized it was his birthplace. At that time, I didn’t have any children and wasn’t familiar with this wonderful big, red dog.
He had a vivid imagination as a child and enjoyed making up imaginary kingdoms as a backdrop for his tin soldiers and other toys. As with many other author/illustrators, he majored in art and spent some time working to get a job as a book illustrator. A chance remark by a rejecting publisher set him on his path. It was suggested that he make up stories about the big red dog and little girl who appeared in his portfolio. Clifford the Big Red Dog’s career was launched. Scholastic can be congratulated for recognizing Bridwell’s brilliance!
Dick Robinson, chairman, president and CEO of Scholastic had this to say about Norman Bridwell and the Clifford books.
Norman Bridwell’s books about Clifford, childhood’s most loveable dog, could only have been written by a gentle man with a great sense of humor. Norman personified the values that we as parents and educators hope to communicate to our children – kindness, compassion, helpfulness, gratitude – through the Clifford stories which have been loved for more than fifty years. The magic of the character and stories Norman created with Clifford is that children can see themselves in this big dog who tries very hard to be good, but is somewhat clumsy and always bumping into things and making mistakes. What comforts the reader is that Clifford is always forgiven by Emily Elizabeth, who loves him unconditionally.¹
Watch some video interviews with this author.
Read about more about Norman Bridwell on these websites.