Norman Bridwell wrote his first Clifford book in 1962, which makes the world's biggest and reddest dog 40 years old.
Dozens of Clifford books have been published and many have been translated into other languages.
Why is Clifford so popular? In an exclusive interview, Mr. Bridwell talked about the enduring appeal of his character. "He's big. He's gentle. He's always trying to be helpful. He's a lovable dog and well-meaning but clumsy. And I think children appreciate this."
Clifford's relationship with his friend Emily Elizabeth is a light-hearted one, full of fun. And no matter what happens, the love of his friend never wavers.
"If there's one message that winds up in most of the books, it's to try, and if things go wrong, don't give up, go back and try again," said Mr. Bridwell. "Clifford does that all the time. He's constantly making mistakes or knocking things over, but it doesn't keep him from trying."
Bridwell started his career by visiting more than a dozen publishing houses to see if they needed an illustrator. One editor advised him to write a story to go along with a picture he had drawn of a baby girl and a large dog. He did so and re-drew the dog even bigger. Within three weeks, he received a call from Scholastic wanting to publish his first book.
Clifford has endured for four decades. "I've always been amazed by the number of letters that I get from parents and from teachers and from children, when they're a little older, saying that that Clifford book was the first book they ever read," said Mr. Bridwell. "I feel very fortunate to have this part in teaching children to read."
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