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On Clifford’s 50th Birthday, Four Questions for Norman Bridwell
I’m guessing that for anyone reading this, birthday boy Clifford the Big Red Dog (and his creator) hardly need an introduction. However, that may not be true for certain younger readers—or maybe they are somewhat familiar with Clifford through television and merchandising, but have yet to discover the classic picture books that started it all. If that’s the case, you may want to have them check out the Clifford Collection, which gathers together the first six stories in a single volume that, need I add, is perfect for children’s libraries. With all the hoopla surrounding this anniversary publication and the corresponding festivities underway today at Scholastic and elsewhere, I’m grateful Norman Bridwell could take a few minutes to “connect the pop” for us.
Today Clifford’s birthday bash is being streamed to countless classrooms. What are some of the most inspiring or creative things you’ve seen librarians or teachers do with your books over the years?
There have been so many fascinating and inspiring ideas. One library had a whole town of miniature buildings and street with a big stuffed Clifford towering over it all. Teachers have used Clifford in many inventive ways to teach good habits and kindness to others.
The Clifford TV series has clearly been a huge success. When the world you created moved to television what was the most unexpected change that came about as a result of this shift in medium?
I was happily surprised that the TV creative team focused on Clifford giving lessons in being honest, sharing, being kind, etc., and not being an action figure hero. He stands out in the TV crowd.
Young fans of Clifford can’t help but being fans of Emily Elizabeth as well. But recently there’s been concern about older boys not reading books that feature girl protagonists. Is there anything publishers or authors should do to address this?
I would guess boys would be more interested in stories with sports or cars. No guns, please. I never thought about the gender of Clifford readers.
Who is your favorite giant-sized fictional character apart from Clifford?
I guess my favorite giant in literature would be the one that Jack separated from his bean stalk. Oh, and Gulliver. I liked to think there were tiny people living in little houses hidden in our backyard. I never found them, but I worried about them when it rained. I never found Godzilla attractive. He was too careless about collateral damage.
About Peter Gutierrez
A former middle school teacher, Peter Gutierrez has spent the past 20 years developing curriculum as well as working in, and writing about, various branches of pop culture. You can sample way too many of his thoughts about media and media literacy via Twitter: @Peter_Gutierrez
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