Clifford the Small Red Puppy

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  • Norman Bridwell
    Norman Bridwell  

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780590442947
  • Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 12/1/1985
  • Series: Clifford 8x8
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 274,426
  • Age range: 3 years
  • Lexile: 330L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 7.14 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 0.18 (d)

Meet the Author

Norman Bridwell

Norman Bridwell is the author and illustrator of numerous children's books, including the beloved Clifford series, which has over 126 million copies in print, in 13 languages! He lives in Edgartown, MA with his wife Norma. They have two children, son, Tim, and daughter, Emily Elizabeth.


Growing up in Kokomo, Indiana, Norman Bridwell was always drawing. "I was not good at sports and my high school shop teacher, after a few days of class, took my tools away, telling me 'Here's a pad of paper instead. You seem to like to draw: stick to that,'" Bridwell remembers. But not everyone believed his drawings or writing would someday delight millions of children (and parents and teachers) around the world, a point he likes to stress when he visits schools, something which he does frequently. "I always liked to draw," Bridwell tells children, "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 high school, Bridwell wanted to turn his love of drawing into a career. He studied first at the John Herron Art Institute in Indianapolis and then moved to New York, where he took classes at another art school, Cooper Union, for two years. He then went to work as a commercial artist. It was in 1962 while he was working as a freelance filmstrip and slide illustrator and drawing mostly cartoons that Bridwell decided to put together a portfolio of colorful drawings and make the rounds of children's book publishers. Now married, with an infant daughter -- Emily -- he was hoping to supplement his income with some extra work illustrating books.

Bridwell visited about fifteen publishing houses but there were no assignments to be had, and even worse, seemingly little hope for any in the future. One editor at Harper & Row went so far as to tell Bridwell that his art by itself was just not good enough, and she didn't think anybody would ask him to illustrate a book for them. But amazingly enough, she also made the suggestion that helped bring him the phenomenal success he enjoys today. She advised him to write a story to go along with one of his pictures. She picked out his sketch of a baby girl and a horse-sized bloodhound and casually said, "There might be a story in this," Bridwell remembers.

He wasted no time in taking her advice, but he did decide to make the bloodhound even bigger and more of an "all-around" dog -- much like the dog he had wanted as a little boy, one that he could ride and who would be a fun companion. Bridwell remembers speaking to the editor on a Friday, and "By Monday, I had done this little book about a girl and her dog," he says.

Now all he needed were names for his characters. "I wanted to call the dog 'Tiny,' but Norma (his wife) said that was boring and suggested 'Clifford' after an imaginary friend from her childhood," Bridwell says. The little girl's name, however, was easy. Bridwell named her Emily Elizabeth, after his young daughter. He dropped off his drawings and manuscript at Scholastic and tried not to expect anything. Three weeks later the phone rang. Scholastic wanted to publish Clifford the Big Red Dog.

Despite his (and Clifford's) success, Bridwell, like anyone who does anything creative, still can't always predict how others will respond to his work. In just a few hours on the night before he was to meet with his editor about a Clifford book that he had worked on for many weeks, Bridwell drew some sketches and put together the text for what would become one of his most popular books, The Witch Next Door. Bridwell thought he was just bringing along something extra, but The Witch Next Door, about a kindly witch and her friendship with her two young neighbors, was accepted for publication while the Clifford book was rejected. "That's the way it goes," Bridwell says, calling The Witch Next Door a "happy accident."

But what he has obviously learned and what he tries to stress to young writers is that rejection is not a reason to give up. "Sometimes you'll do something that you really like and no one else does. You'll feel terrible, but you've just got to press on and keep trying. If you like doing it and keep working at it, then someday you will succeed."

Read More Show Less
    1. Hometown:
      Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts
    1. Date of Birth:
      February 15, 1928
    2. Place of Birth:
      Kokomo, Indiana
    1. Education:
      John Herron Art Institute, 1945-49; Cooper Union Art School, 1952-53
    2. Website:

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 4, 2001

    Gales of Giggles!

    If you are like me, you love Clifford, the Big Red Dog. Do you know the story of how he came to live with Emily Elizabeth? One day, Emily Elizabeth's friend, Martha, got a new dog. She tells Emily Elizabeth all about finding the dog at the pet store. Then she asks how Emily Elizabeth acquired Clifford, the Big Red Dog. 'When I was little I lived in the city. I didn't have a dog.' Then one day a neighbor's dog had puppies, and he offered Emily Elizabeth one. All of the puppies looked different from each other, and one was very tiny. The neighbor said to Emily Elizabeth, 'Don't pick him. He's the runt. He'll always be small and sick.' But Emily Elizabeth liked the idea of having a puppy who needed her. So she took the little red puppy, and named him Clifford. Clifford was so tiny that they couldn't find a collar small enough for him. He had to be fed with a doll's baby bottle. He would get lost in the house, sometimes even in Daddy's shoe! He would sleep in bed with Emily Elizabeth. One day, Mother noticed that he seemed bigger. So did Emily Elizabeth. The collar now was too small. He couldn't fit into the basket meant for sleeping. He returned to Emily Elizabeth's bed, but soon he took all the room! When they would walk, Clifford was bigger than even the big dogs. The neighbors began to notice how large Clifford was. Then the landlord complained. The police came and said Clifford would have to go. But they could not get him out, because he was bigger than the doors! Finally, a crane was able to lift him into a moving van that took Clifford to the country where Emily Elizabeth's uncle lived. Clifford and Emily Elizabeth really missed one another. Then, Daddy got a new job working with her uncle, and they all moved to the country. Emily Elizabeth and Clifford were reunited. Emily Elizabeth said, 'Clifford, stop growing. You are just right.' Then Emily Elizabeth politely asks Martha to tell about her dog again. Martha decides to change the subject. This book has many wonderful qualities. First, it addresses the issue of appearances being deceiving. Clifford looked like a runt, but became a giant. Second, it shows that potential can be much different from current reality. The exact nature of Clifford's great ability to be a rewarding dog is not apparent as a puppy. Third, children get a chance to realize that cute baby animals will not always be like that. Many children ask for a pet, and then will not take care of the pet when the baby animal becomes an adult. You can have more realistic conversations about your pet plans after reading this story. Fourth, it turns the idea of having an adult pet into an asset. Fifth, the story is told in such a way that your child will be laughing continuously. That will make it easier to remember the story, and will encourage learning to memorize the words. That is helpful in a beginning reader. Sixth, the story also encourages you to make the best of whatever comes your way. Although Emily Elizabeth did not have the reality of Clifford, the Big Red Dog, in mind when she picked him, she learned to love and enjoy his adult self as much as his puppy self. After reading this story, you can have a wonderful conversation about how relationships change between parents and children as the children grow up. You can help your child understand how taking on more responsibility is part of the maturation process, and doesn't mean you care for her or him any less. In fact, encouraging independence is a sign of true love. In this way, your relationship can evolve in many positive ways, as Emily Elizabeth's did with Clifford. Look on the funny side of what happens . . . always! Donald Mitchell, co-author of The Irresistible Growth Enterprise and The 2,000 Percent Solution

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