Norman Bridwell, author of “Clifford The Big Red Dog,” dies

Bridwell wrote more than 90 different books about the giant-sized Bloodhound — all of which sold approximately 129 million copies.

He wrote more than 90 Clifford The Big Red Dog books, which sold more than 129 million copies, and saw his stories transformed into a popular PBS animated television series for children. Norman Bridwell, author and illustrator of Clifford The Big Red Dog, died last week. He was 86.

Norman’s manuscript was rejected by nine different publishers before it sold to Scholastic. He wrote his first Clifford story in one weekend after changing careers as an artist in New York City. He thought he could still be an illustrator and add writing to the mix. He was pleasantly surprised when the manuscript was accepted by Scholastic.

His wife, Norma, suggested that he write a second Clifford story about The Big Red Dog and Emily Elizabeth, the young girl who adopts him. The fictional Emily Elizabeth is named after Bridwell’s daughter.

Bridwell was a native of Indiana. He and his wife lived on the island of Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts. His wife told the Associated Press, “He passed peacefully with family members at his bedside.”

“Norman Bridwell’s books about Clifford, childhood’s most lovable dog, could only have been written by a gentle man with a great sense of humor,” Scholastic President and CEO Dick Robinson says.“Norman personified the values that we as parents and educators hope to communicate to our children–kindness, compassion, helpfulness, gratitude.”

Clifford The Big Red Dogbooks and television series were popular around the world. The animated PBS TV show aired in 65 countries.

In 2015, there will be two more Clifford books — Clifford Goes to Kindergarten and Clifford Celebrates Hanukkah.

Norman is survived by his wife, Norma, and their two children, Emily Bridwell Merz and Timothy Bridwell, and three grandchildren.

Sources: Associated Press, NPR, The New York Times