The Quick 10: Clifford the Big Red Dog
A reader suggested Clifford the Big Red Dog via Twitter the other day, and although I tend to lean more toward smaller dogs, I thought that was a great idea. And it's a great story - Clifford's creator was told he would never succeed, but millions of books later, his pup is one of the most popular children's book characters ever. Enjoy!
1. Norman Bridwell was told over and over again that he was never going to make it as an illustrator; his pictures of dogs were too ordinary and boring. One critic finally offered the helpful suggestion that Bridwell create a little story to go with his drawings of a little girl riding a pony-like dog, and that was all it took. Scholastic Books agreed to publish Clifford the Big Red Dog less than a month later.
2. Bridwell is still around and writes a couple of new Clifford books every year. He also wrote for the T.V. series and 2004's Clifford's Really Big Movie.
3. Emily Elizabeth Howard, the little girl who takes a liking to the runt of the litter in the first book, is named after his own daughter, Emily Elizabeth Bridwell.
4. Clifford was named after an imaginary friend his wife had when she was a child, which is kind of awesome. At first Bridwell suggested "Tiny," but his wife told him that was rather trite and boring.
5. Ever wonder exactly what type of dog Clifford is? Well, he's said to have the characteristics of a giant Vizsla now, but the very first prototype (back when he was just the size of a pony instead of a house) was of a rather large bloodhound. Bridwell has said he takes his inspiration from the behavior of all types of dogs.
6. Don't ever expect to see titles like Clifford Goes to Outer Space or Clifford and the Dinosaurs. Bridwell (pictured) firmly believes that although Clifford is a bit oversized, he still mostly does things normal dogs do. You won't see him gallivanting around with unicorns as long as Bridwell has anything to say about it.
7. More than 40 Clifford books have been published since the original first hit bookstores in 1963 and there are more than 44 million copies in print.
8. Clifford and Emily Elizabeth live on the fictional Birdwell Island. Now, I can't find anything that officially says Norman Bridwell was paying homage to himself by switching two letters in the name of the Island, but doesn't that seem likely to you?
9. If you've watched the Clifford cartoon on PBS, you likely recognize some of the voices. John Ritter is the voice of Clifford, Kel Mitchell of Kenan and Kel voices Clifford's buddy T-Bone, Cree Summers lends her vocals to another pal named Cleo (you've also heard her as Penny in Inspector Gadget and Elmyra in Tiny Toon Adventures , and Emily Elizabeth is played by voice actress Grey DeLisle who is also the McNulty Brothers in Rugrats and Queen Amidala in the Star Wars interactive series.
10. In 1985, Bridwell started writing Clifford the Small Red Puppy, where you can catch a glimpse of Clifford before he was able to catch cars in his mouth. Clifford's Puppy Days shows us what life with Clifford and Emily Elizabeth was like back when he was still the runt, before the family had to move to Birdwell Island to accommodate Clifford's gigantism. It was also made into a PBS series in 2003 called Clifford's Puppy Days.
Reminiscing about our favorite books has been so fun we've decided to expand to one more week. I have a few in mind for next week, but I'm certainly still open to suggestions! Leave a comment or a Tweet if you have a series or author you'd love to hear more about.