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Interview With Norman Bridwell,
Creator of "Clifford, the Big Red Dog"

Publishers' Note: When we decided to devote a few articles in our third issue of the original Canis Max magazine to the theme of raising big dogs with small children, we knew that we had to get an interview with Norman Bridwell, the creator of the popular "Clifford, the Big Red Dog" children's books. We remember how, as novice readers, we would laugh at the whimsical images of Clifford carrying trees in his mouth as if they were sticks; or of Emily Elizabeth, the heroine of the stories, riding her dog as if he were some gigantic horse. Because we enjoyed the pictures so much, it made us more curious about the words which, in turn, made us more eager to learn how to read. We contacted Mr. Bridwell at his home on Martha's Vineyard and he graciously agreed to answer a few questions for our magazine.

This interview originally appeared in the Winter 1996/1997 issue of Canis Max.

Photo of Mr. Bridwell by Mark Lovewell

Canis Max: How old is Clifford?
Norman Bridwell: I wrote the first Clifford book in 1962. It was published in 1963.

CM: How popular is Clifford? How many copies of the books have sold?
NB: 60 million copies sold.

CM: How many languages have the books been translated into?
NB: Translated into Spanish, French, German, Chinese, Italian, Danish.

CM: Does he receive any fan mail?
NB: He gets quite a lot of mail.

CM: Has there been an animated version of Clifford on TV or video?
NB: There have been five or six video tapes done but no TV show or movie.

CM: Any merchandising?
NB: Plush toys, games, puzzles, glasses, tableware, etc., etc.

CM: What inspired you to write the first Clifford book?
NB: I made a painting of a small girl with a big red dog as an art sample. I showed it, with several other pictures, to editors. I wanted work as an illustrator. Nobody was interested. Then I wrote a story about the dog. Scholastic Books bought it.

CM: Do you own any dogs or other pets now?
NB: I have had four dogs in my life, all small. I always wanted a big one I could ride. Now we just have two cats.

CM: Can you tell us a little about your professional background?
NB: I studied art for four years and worked in commercial art for twelve years before Clifford. No books published before Clifford.

CM: Is there any message that you hope to convey to children through your stories about Clifford?
NB: Clifford means well, but makes mistakes. He does his best, and his faults are forgiven. Even if he isn't perfect, Emily (his owner) loves him.

CM: What's in store for the future? Are there any new Clifford books coming out soon?
NB: There are two books finished: "Clifford's First Valentine's Day" and "Clifford's Spring Cleanup." Both come out next spring.

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