Bridwell, Norman 1928-

Updated About encyclopedia.com content Print Article Share Article
views updated

Norman Bridwell 1928-

(Full name Norman Ray Bridwell) American writer and illustrator of children's books.

INTRODUCTION

Bridwell is best known as the creator of more than one hundred Clifford the Big Red Dog picture books, concept books, toy books, and easy readers. His simplistic writing style incorporates fact, fiction, and humor into books credited with teaching preschool and primary grade children a wide range of topics while keeping them laughing at Clifford's misadventures. Bridwell's books have been translated into Chinese, Danish, French, German, Greek, Italian, and Spanish and have spawned numerous spin-off products, including toys, games, clothes, puzzles, bedding, backpacks, and beanbags.

BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION

Bridwell was born February 15, 1928, in Kokomo, Indiana, the son of Vern Ray (a factory foreman) and Mary Leona Koontz (a homemaker) Bridwell. After graduating from high school, Bridwell spent two years at the John Herron Art Institute in Indianapolis, Indiana. In 1953 he moved to New York City to study at Cooper Union Art School for a year and then became a commercial artist for Foxson Fabrics, where he designed fabrics for neckties. Two years later Bridwell designed cartoons for slides and filmstrips for H. D. Rose Company. After three years Bridwell decided to become a freelancer. On June 13, 1958, he married Norma Howard, a watercolor, oil painting, and print artist; soon their family included a daughter, Emily Elizabeth, and a son, Timothy Howard.

To supplement his income, Bridwell decided to become an illustrator of children's books. After fifteen publishing houses turned him down, an editor at Harper & Row suggested that Bridwell try to write his own book based on one of his sketches. Thus, Clifford the Big Red Dog (1962) was born. He modeled the title character after a dog he had wanted as a little boy, drew him house-size, and gave him an owner named after his own daughter, Emily. He submitted his new book to Scholastic Press; Beatrice Schenk deRegniers, a well-known children's author, accepted and published the book. After the success of his first Clifford books, Bridwell moved his family to Martha's Vineyard, where he and his wife continued to reside. Bridwell visited schools and has frequently encouraged students about being a writer and artist. Bridwell admitted to Authors Online Library, "Luck has a lot to do with it. So much of it has to do with stumbling into the right characteristics of this big red dog and situations you can use in a story."

MAJOR WORKS

The Clifford series is directed to primary graders and is noted for their cartoonlike pictures. Clifford, an immense crimson canine, is the clumsy but well-meaning pet of five-year-old Emily Elizabeth. In Cliffordand the Grouchy Neighbors (1985), five children ride on his back, but he upsets the neighborhood with his ability to pull up trees with his tremendous paws. Bridwell uses humor in his phrase-and-repeat structure as Clifford imitates a young boy in Clifford Makes a Friend (1998). Carolyn Phelan of Booklist agrees that "the colorful, cartoonlike illustrations reflect an atmosphere of pure fun as Clifford cavorts with his new friend." In Clifford's Big Book of Things to Know (1999), Bridwell uses double-page Clifford illustrations to guide very young children through a wide variety of topics. In Horn Book Guide Maeve Visser Knoth indicates that "the facts are solid and will lead children on to more detailed resources."

Bridwell created Clifford the Small Red Puppy (1972) as a board book and explains how Clifford grew from a tiny puppy to a big red dog. This Bridwell series, which includes Clifford's Animal Sounds (1991), Clifford Counts Bubbles (1992), and Clifford's Opposites (2000), is designed to teach preschoolers such concepts as colors, numbers, shapes, opposites, and counting. Sound is added in Clifford Barks! (1996) when the reader pushes a small button which makes a squeaking noise representing the dog's bark. In Clifford's Peek-and-Seek Animal Riddles (1997), Clifford introduces the reader to animals in rhyming riddles with answers in lift-the-flap holes.

The Witch Next Door (1965), How to Care for Your Monster (1970), and Monster Holidays (1974) are part of Bridwell's easy reader series. The story of a witch's birth and childhood is humorously told in The Witch Grows Up (1979). In another easy reader, Clifford's Good Deeds (1975), Clifford receives a hero's medal for saving children from a burning house and rescuing a kitten in a tree. "The illustrations are in cartoon style, the text is brisk, and both are lightly humorous," praises a reviewer for the Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books. Bridwell uses some adult humor when Clifford becomes a Hollywood superstar in Clifford Goes to Hollywood (1980). Leaving his stardom, his bone-shaped pool, and his jewels behind, Clifford finally returns to the girl who loves him.

CRITICAL RECEPTION

Although Bridwell's works seldom receive critical acclaim, his Clifford series are undeniably popular, having sold more than one hundred million copies. According to Peter Sieruta in Children's Books and Their Creators, beginning readers "may use the stories as stepping-stones to more challenging, rewarding reading." Mary Lystad in St. James Guide to Children's Writers concurs, noting that Bridwell's books "are visually inviting." Many critics have faulted his works for having dull, slight texts and unsophisticated illustrations. In Horn Book Guide, Marilyn Bousquin comments that perhaps some works should be "reserved for devout fans who will follow Clifford anywhere." But Mary Ann Bursk in School Library Journal declares, "There's a lot of fun here. Who can resist that wagging red tail?" Bridwell told Contemporary Authors, "Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined that I would have such success. Despite the fact that my books are rarely noticed or mentioned by critics and specialists in children's literature, children and teachers know them and seem to like them. I'm extremely grateful to my readers and to the teachers who find Clifford useful in getting young readers started."

AWARDS

Bridwell received Author of the Year, Lucky Book Club/Four-Leaf Clover Award, and Scholastic Book Services Awards in 1971. Clifford and the Grouchy Neighbors won the Children's Choice Book Award from the International Reading Association/Children's Book Council in 1985. In 1987 the picture book Clifford the Big Red Dog received the Children's Choice Award by the Children's Services Staff of the Mesa, Arizona, Public Library. The Educational Paperback Association awarded Bridwell the Jeremiah Ludington Memorial Award in 1991, and in 1994 Indiana University bestowed upon Bridwell the honorary degree Doctor of Humane Letters.

PRINCIPAL WORKS

Clifford the Big Red Dog (picture book) 1962

Clifford Gets a Job (picture book) 1965

The Witch Next Door (picture book) 1965

Clifford's Halloween (picture book) 1966

Clifford's Tricks (picture book) 1969

How to Care for Your Monster (picture book) 1970

Clifford the Small Red Puppy (board book) 1972

The Witch's Vacation (picture book) 1973

Monster Holidays (picture book) 1974

Clifford's Good Deeds (picture book) 1975

Kangaroo Stew (picture book) 1979

The Witch Grows Up (picture book) 1979

Clifford Goes to Hollywood (picture book) 1980

Clifford's ABC (picture book) 1984

Clifford's Christmas (picture book) 1984

Clifford's Sticker Book (sticker book) 1984

Clifford and the Grouchy Neighbors (picture book) 1985

Clifford's Birthday Party (picture book) 1987

Clifford's Manners (picture book) 1987

Clifford, We Love You (picture book) 1990

Clifford's Animal Sounds (board book) 1991

Clifford Counts Bubbles (board book) 1992

Clifford's Puppy Days (board book) 1992

Clifford's Family (picture book) 1993

Clifford's Thanksgiving Visit (picture book) 1993

Clifford's Big Book of Stories [includes Clifford the Big Red Dog, Clifford's Puppy Days, Clifford's Good Deeds and Clifford Gets a Job] (anthology) 1994

Clifford's Happy Easter (picture book) 1994

Clifford's Thanksgiving (picture book) 1994

Clifford's First Easter: A Lift-the-Flap Book (picture book) 1995

Clifford Barks! (board book) 1996

The Story of Clifford [with sound effects] (picture book) 1996

Clifford's First Autumn (picture book) 1997

Clifford's First Valentine's Day (picture book) 1997

Clifford's Peek-and-Seek Animal Riddles (board book) 1997

Clifford's Spring Clean-up (picture book) 1997

Clifford Counts 1-2-3 (board book) 1998

Clifford Makes a Friend (picture book) 1998

Clifford: Where Is the Big Red Doggie? (picture book) 1998

Clifford Treasury [boxed set includes Clifford's Birthday Party, Clifford's Puppy Days, Clifford's Family and Clifford's Kitten] (anthology) 1999

Clifford's Big Book of Things to Know (picture book) 1999

Clifford's Opposites (board book) 2000

Clifford the Big Red Dog: Glow-in-the-Dark Christmas [with Mark Marderosian] (picture book) 2001

Clifford the Big Red Dog: Glow-in-the-Dark Halloween [with Mark Marderosian] (picture book) 2001

Clifford the Big Red Dog Photo Album (picture book) 2001

Clifford's Happy Mother's Day (picture book) 2001

Clifford's Puppy Fun: A Lift-the-Flap Book with Stickers (picture book) 2001

Clifford's Valentines (picture book) 2001

Clifford Celebrates the Year [includes Clifford, We Love You, Clifford's Birthday Party, Clifford's Happy Easter, Clifford's Spring Clean-Up, Clifford and the Big Parade, Clifford's Halloween, Clifford's Thanksgiving Visit Clifford's Christmas] (anthology) 2002

Clifford's Class Trip (picture book) 2003

GENERAL COMMENTARY

Peter D. Sieruta (essay date 1995)

SOURCE: Sieruta, Peter D. "Norman Bridwell." In Children's Books and Their Creators, edited by Anita Silvey, pp. 82-3. Houghton Mifflin Company, 1995.

[In the following excerpt, Sieruta examines several of Bridwell's picture books, board books and easy readers.]

Clifford, the Big Red Dog first appeared as an unpretentious paperback in 1962, but grew into an extremely popular series of books for preschool readers. Clifford's creator, Norman Bridwell, was born in Kokomo, Indiana, and educated at the John Herron Art Institute and Cooper Union Art School. He worked for a filmstrip company, designed fabrics, and was a freelance artist before publishing his first book.

Clifford, the Big Red Dog is narrated by Emily Elizabeth, a little girl whose pet is so large that he bathes in swimming pools and lives in a doghouse that dwarfs his owners' home. Despite the bland writing and cartoonlike red-and-black illustrations, children were enchanted by this oversized, good-natured, but sometimes clumsy canine; further volumes include Clifford Gets a Job (1965), Clifford's Halloween (1966), and Clifford's Tricks (1969). Bridwell has published a series about a young witch, including The Witch Next Door (1965) and The Witch's Vacation (1973), and a few individual titles such as Kangaroo Stew (1979), but he is best known for the Clifford books, which later included pop-up editions and such nonstory items as Clifford's Sticker Book (1984). When Clifford graduated to hardcover in the 1980s, some of the earlier volumes were reissued with full-color illustrations. A series of board books, "Clifford, the Small Red Puppy," concerns the dog's early years and includes Clifford's Animal Sounds (1991) and Clifford Counts Bubbles (1992).

From a critical perspective, Bridwell's contributions to children's literature appear slight. Yet the books are undeniably popular with beginning readers, who appreciate the antics of Emily Elizabeth's dog and who may use the stories as steppingstones to more challenging, rewarding reading.

Mary Lystad (essay date November 1998)

SOURCE: Lystad, Mary. "Norman Bridwell." In St. James Guide to Children's Writers, fifth edition, edited by Sara Pendergast and Tom Pendergast, pp. 154-55. Detroit: St. James Press, 1998.

[In the following excerpt, Bridwell's life and career are examined and Clifford Gets a Job, Clifford and the Grouchy Neighbors, Clifford's Good Deeds and Clifford's Manners are briefly reviewed.]

Norman Bridwell comments: ["]Although the critics find little to like in my books children seem to like them. I am told that many teachers use the Clifford books to get children interested in reading. I didn't plan that, but I'm glad it works out that way.

I have been very lucky to have this career. I originally wanted to be an illustrator but had to write my own stories because nobody wanted my art for their books.["]

There are certain picture books for the pre-school and beginner reader crowd that are so popular they get their own shelf in the children's section of the public library. [T]he Clifford books by Norman Bridwell are good examples. They are all series books about animals that show the animals in simple day-to-day situations.

Bridwell has written and illustrated many books about a large dog named Clifford and his proud owner Emily Elizabeth, named after Bridwell's daughter. Bridwell has also written and illustrated several books about a friendly witch, but it is the Clifford books that have brought him his great popularity.

Bridwell's books are rarely praised or even singled out by critics and specialists in children's literature; they are slight in text and simple in illustration. But teachers and librarians have found them to be very useful in getting children interested in reading. Why? They are visually inviting. Clifford is a very large dog, almost as large as an elephant, and he is very red in color, about the red of a fire-engine. He has soulful eyes and floppy ears. You'd be inclined to pet him, and even hug the parts of him you could reach. And Clifford has adventures in his daily life that children can relate to: he celebrates Christmas and Easter, he goes on trips, he tries to do good deeds, and he has manners. Most important, he cares about others.

Clifford came to Emily Elizabeth in a special way. The man down the hall in her apartment house in the city gave her a choice of puppies when his dog had a litter. One puppy in the litter was smaller than the rest, and the man told her not to take that one because he was the runt and would always be small and sick.

But Emily Elizabeth knew at once that this puppy needed her and she chose him above the others. She fed him with her doll's baby bottle. Clifford was so little that he was always getting lost, even in Emily Elizabeth's small apartment. But she looked after him.

Emily Elizabeth did the right thing, of course. Her excellent care of Clifford enabled him to grow, and grow and grow until he was too big for the apartment and had to be sent to live with her uncle in the country. Emily Elizabeth missed Clifford and he missed her. Luckily, she and her parents were able to move to the country, with her father taking a job with her uncle, and Emily Elizabeth reuniting with her dog.

Clifford by now is bigger than a human being, bigger than a car, bigger than Emily Elizabeth's house in the country. Well you can see how delightful it would be to have a dog that big, who had his own very large house in back of Emily Elizabeth's house, and who rides her to school every day on his back. Emily Elizabeth and her friends climb all over Clifford and have good times sliding down his back when he is seated.

There is one problem with Clifford, from Emily's family's point of view: he eats a lot of dog food, which costs a lot of money. But in Clifford Gets a Job, he becomes a police dog; he is paid not in money but in dog food. Problem solved. Naturally such a dog might have trouble with the neighbors. In Clifford and the Grouchy Neighbors, he indeed does have trouble because he makes so much noise and in an effort to help them, only upsets their grocery cart. Clifford wants to do good, and when he saves the birds in the neighbors' yard from a predatory cat, they are won over and actually thank Clifford for his assistance.

Clifford's Good Deeds describes his efforts at being helpful, and the difficulties he has in doing just the right thing. He tries to help a small paper boy, but throws his newspaper so hard that it goes through the front and back windows of a house. And other mishaps follow. At the end of this book, he manages to rescue two little children out of the third floor of a burning house. Bridwell himself says on one of his dust jackets that he thinks the key to Clifford's charm is that he is not perfect. Clifford always tries to do the right thing, but he makes many mistakes along the way. Children too make mistakes, and they often are misunderstood, so they relate to Clifford's trials and tribulations.

Clifford provides a word book, a counting book, an ABC book, a riddle book, a pop-up book, a puppet book. He even has a book on manners. In Clifford's Manners, he says "please" when asking for something, "thank you" when receiving something. Clifford writes thank you notes, shares his toys with friends, puts his toys away when he is finished with them. He is a good sport when he loses. What a role model!

No child is going to read all of these books, but those who read one are likely to enjoy reading others because Clifford becomes a friend, a friend who has funny and familiar adventures, and predictable problems. And he does motivate children to read on. An admirable dog, Clifford. Bridwell's works have been translated into Spanish, Danish, German, Chinese, French, Italian and Greek. The situations depicted and the accompanying drawings are genuine and may be enjoyed by children of many cultures.

TITLE COMMENTARY

CLIFFORD'S HALLOWEEN (1966)

Jean Pretorius (review date 15 January 1968)

SOURCE: Pretorius, Jean. Library Journal 93, no. 2 (15 January 1968): 281.

K-Gr 2—Emily Elizabeth has a dog, Clifford, who likes holidays [Clifford's Halloween ] and has a part in each one, "And on New Year's Eve, we stay up until midnight so Clifford can blow his New Year's horn." Clifford even has a variety of costumes for Halloween, his favorite holiday. The story is trite, dull, and the red-and-black illustrations are very poor cartoons.

CLIFFORD THE SMALL RED PUPPY (1972)

Horn Book Guide (review date January 1990)

SOURCE: Horn Book Guide 1, no. 1 (Fall 1990): 222.

A new edition [Clifford the Small Red Puppy ] of a book first published in 1972. The story of Clifford and how he grew from tiny pup to big red dog. The two-color artwork has not been improved—in fact is rendered more banal—by the transformation to full color.

CLIFFORD'S GOOD DEEDS (1975)

Carol Chatfield (review date April 1976)

SOURCE: Chatfield, Carol. School Library Journal 22, no. 8 (April 1976): 58-9.

K-Gr 2—Clifford, the friendly oversize red dog, is back for another series of easy-to-read adventures [Clifford's Good Deeds ] wherein good intentions inevitably lead to unintended and unfortunate results. In the end, of course, Clifford does accomplish a good deed for which he receives a hero's medal: he saves children from the third floor of a burning house by having them walk out onto his nose and puts out the fire by emptying a swimming pool and spraying it through his mouth onto the flames. Clifford certainly won't be receiving awards for literary excellence. However, kids will read and enjoy his escapades, and the pictures alone tell the story for non-readers.

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (review date June 1976)

SOURCE: Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books 29, no. 10 (June 1976): 154.

4-6 yrs. The biggest shaggy dog around, Clifford is an amiable giant (about 2 stories high) whose efforts to help [in Clifford's Good Deeds ] result in comic mishaps: he helps pile dry leaves into a truck, but undoes all that good work with a giant sneeze; he bends a tree limb down to rescue a kitten, but he's so strong that the limb snaps the kitten into the air and he has to catch it, et cetera. For one deed he gets a hero's medal, rescuing two children who are trapped in the attic of a burning house. The illustrations are in cartoon style, the text is brisk, and both are lightly humorous. There's nothing pedantic about the implied lesson in helping others, and there's plenty of action.

THE WITCH GROWS UP (1979)

Susan Cain (review date September 1980)

SOURCE: Cain, Susan. School Library Journal 27, no. 1 (September 1980): 56.

PreS-Gr 3—Fans of the "witch next door" will like this book [The Witch Grows Up ] about her birth and childhood. The witch's parents are kind and loving; but they are not above "zapping" her when she's fresh. Their magic powers provide her with a much richer life than that of mere mortals: her food flies into her mouth, her sandbox is a miniature desert, her wading pool houses an octopus, and her bed tucks her in. Much of the fun depends on the juxtaposition of straightforward text and ludicrous illustrations. But the humor is simple enough to be picked up by young children.

CLIFFORD GOES TO HOLLYWOOD (1980)

Marilyn Payne Phillips (review date August 1981)

SOURCE: Phillips, Marilyn Payne. School Library Journal 27, no. 10 (August 1981): 53.

Gr 1-3—Roll over, Benji, as this big red dog becomes the new top dog of Hollywood—following the usual screen test and debut in a wildly popular film. Despite the amenities of a superstar's life: jewels, appearances on talk shows and a bone-shaped swimming pool, Clifford decides to return to the girl who loves him. More adult in humor and less pleasing than previous books in the series.

CLIFFORD'S ABC (1984)

Mary Ann Bursk (review date March 1985)

SOURCE: Bursk, Mary Ann. School Library Journal 31, no. 7 (March 1985): 147.

PreS-Gr 2—When youngsters first see the endpapers of Clifford's ABC, they will chuckle as their lovable canine friend romps among the 26 letters of the alphabet. At the top of each page, one letter appears in both lower and upper case (although K-L and X-Y each share a page). Clifford and Emily also appear on each page, and they are joined by humorous combinations of characters. There is a beaver chewing on a baseball bat and a fairy using a funnel to catch a flea. Each word is labeled. The sight of Clifford holding a string of sausage in his mouth, supporting a sleeping Emily on his nose and a scarecrow with a saxophone on his head will bring smiles to the faces of most young children. The colors are bright and the drawings realistic. Both familiar and unfamiliar items are pictured. Bridwell uses a wash of pastels in the background to give unity and warmth to each two-page spread. The colors and detailed drawings are reminiscent of Richard Scarry, but the larger figures will be easier for preschoolers to see. There's a lot of fun here. Who can resist that wagging red tail?

Margo Showstack (review date winter 1985)

SOURCE: Showstack, Margo. Children's Book Review Service 13, no. 6 (winter 1985): 56.

Ages 2-5 Clifford, The Big Red Dog, made his literary debut twenty-one years ago and has enjoyed great popularity since. In this new book [Clifford's ABC ] Clifford bounds through the pages seeing such sights as a beaver biting a bat and a wagon full of waffles. The colorfully illustrated, amusing romp should appeal to undemanding pre-schoolers.

CLIFFORD'S CHRISTMAS (1984)

Reading Teacher (review date October 1988)

SOURCE: Reading Teacher 42, no. 1 (October 1988): 49.

Clifford the big red dog is back [Clifford's Christmas ]. Children can't wait to turn the page to see what Clifford will do next. The text prompts children to refer to the illustrations for answers. One reader commented, "I wish I were Clifford."

CLIFFORD AND THE GROUCHY NEIGHBORS (1985)

Reading Teacher (review date October 1986)

SOURCE: Reading Teacher 40, no. 1 (October 1986): 40-1.

Clifford is so huge that five children can ride on his back [Clifford and the Grouchy Neighbors ]. He can pull up trees with his bare paws. No wonder the neighbors get grouchy. Readers can take turns predicting how Clifford wins them over.

CLIFFORD'S FIRST EASTER: A LIFT-THE-FLAP BOOK (1995)

Christine C. Behr (review date fall 1995)

SOURCE: Behr, Christine C. Horn Book Guide 6, no. 2 (fall 1995): 248.

Clifford's foray into the world of lift-the-flaps [Clifford's First Easter: A Lift-the-Flap Book ] is long on gimmick and short on plot. Some pleasant surprises do hide behind the flaps, however, and the ever-present appeal of Clifford the puppy will not be dimmed as he is caught napping in an egg carton and gleefully discovers hidden eggs on Easter morning.

CLIFFORD BARKS (1996)

Patricia Riley (review date fall 1996)

SOURCE: Riley, Patricia. Horn Book Guide 7, no. 2 (fall 1996): 237.

When Clifford [in Clifford Barks! ], the small red puppy, goes for a walk, he barks at everything he sees. Although the rhyming story has no plot, very young children may enjoy pushing the button that makes a squeaking sound supposedly representing Clifford's bark.

CLIFFORD'S PEEK-AND-SEEK ANIMAL RIDDLES (1997)

Marilyn Bousquin (review date fall 1997)

SOURCE: Bousquin, Marilyn. Horn Book Guide 8, no. 2 (fall 1997): 249.

Accompanied by Bridwell's familiar artwork, this jaunt through the park with Clifford [Clifford's Peek-and-Seek Animal Riddles ] introduces his animal friends and their characteristics with singsongy riddles ("We have long ears, fluffy tails, big feet. / Clifford brings us carrots to eat. / Who are we?"). Peek-a-boo holes offer a visual glimpse of the answer on the coming page. Reserve for devout fans who will follow Clifford anywhere.

CLIFFORD MAKES A FRIEND (1998)

Carolyn Phelan (review date 15 March 1999)

SOURCE: Phelan, Carolyn. Booklist 95, no. 14 (15 March 1999): 1336.

Gr. 1. Although it's the combination of the familiar character Clifford and a very simple vocabulary that will lead beginning readers to choose this book [Clifford Makes a Friend ] in the Hello Reader! series, it is the satisfaction achieved by reading the simple story that will make them glad they found it. Clifford meets a boy and imitates him as he runs, jumps, makes faces, and so on. Happy in each other's company, they become friends. The imitation theme gives a logical reason for repeated phrases ("The boy makes a face. The dog makes a face"), which can otherwise deaden the text of a beginning reader book. Better still, the phrase-and-repeat structure is not always followed; the child must read the second sentence, as it does not always repeat the first one. Throughout the book, the colorful, cartoonlike illustrations reflect an atmosphere of pure fun as Clifford cavorts with his new friend. Sure to be a popular choice.

CLIFFORD'S BIG BOOK OF THINGS TO KNOW (1999)

Publishers Weekly (review date 2 August 1999)

SOURCE: Publishers Weekly 246, no. 31 (2 August 1999): 87.

An eclectic compendium of information on subjects ranging from how a garden grows to what happens at a recycling plant, Clifford's Big Book of Things to Know by Norman Bridwell covers one topic per large-format spread. For example, "Sports and Games" shows kids enjoying many kinds of exercise, including four games with balls, while Clifford runs down a path. (ages 3-6)

Jane Claes (review date October 1999)

SOURCE: Claes, Jane. School Library Journal 45, no. 10 (October 1999): 134.

PreS-Gr 2—This oversized, simple encyclopedia [Clifford's Big Book of Things to Know: A Book of Fun Facts ] has great breadth but no depth. The Big Red Dog guides young readers through myriad subjects from pet care to volcanoes to the human body. Each theme is presented in a double-page spread illustrated with Bridwell's familiar, colorful cartoons. The busy layout contains many small, labeled pictures that add to the scant information offered. The text is short and sometimes simplistic. A paragraph about the heart mentions that "The doctor uses a stethoscope to listen to your heartbeat." Yet, no picture or further explanation about a stethoscope is offered. Words printed in bold type are sprinkled throughout the text; while they do relate to the section's main idea, there is no glossary or definition for them and it is unclear why they are highlighted. Also, including Clifford in some of the subjects seems unnatural. The section on animal homes shows a deer thicket, a squirrel nest, a beaver lodge, a skunk den, and Clifford in his doghouse. Except for the oversized pup, all of the animals built their homes. Nevertheless, this offering will be popular simply because of the main character.

Maeve Visser Knoth (review date spring 2000)

SOURCE: Knoth, Maeve Visser. Horn Book Guide 11, no. 1 (spring 2000): 99.

PS—Clifford the big red dog and his owner Emily Elizabeth introduce a variety of topics [in Clifford's Big Book of Things to Know ] including weather, space, and mail delivery. The information is simple and Clifford is an unnecessary inclusion, but the topics will be of interest to very young children. Bridwell's cartoon-style art is more cute than informative, but the facts are solid and will lead children on to more detailed resources.

FURTHER READING

Biography

McElmeel, Sharron L, editor. "Norman Bridwell." In 100 Most Popular Picture Book Authors and Illustrators: Biographical Sketches and Bibliographies, pp. 53-6. Libraries Unlimited, Inc., 2000.

Provides background information on Bridwell's life and career.

Criticism

Fretts, Bruce. "Living a Dog's Life: 'Clifford' creator Norman Bridwell brings his big red pooch to the small screen." Entertainment Weekly, no. 558 (8 September 2000): 81.

Fretts documents how the PBS Clifford animated series was based on the Clifford picture books.

Mark, Lois Alter. Entertainment Weekly, no. 195 (5 November 1993): 80.

Brief favorable review of Clifford the Small Red Puppy.

Reading Teacher 50, no. 2 (October 1996): 130.

Brief review of Clifford's First Easter: A Lift-the-Flap Book.

Reading Teacher 50, no. 2 (October 1996): 130.

Brief summary of Clifford's First Halloween.

Teacher 94, no. 9 (May-June 1977): 110.

Brief favorable review of Clifford's Good Deeds.

Additional coverage of Bridwell's life and career is contained in the following sources published by the Gale Group: Contemporary Authors, Vols. 13-16R; Contemporary Authors New Revision Series, Vols. 5, 20, 46, 117; Literature Resource Center ; Major Authors and Illustrators for Children and Young Adults, Eds. 1, 2; St. James Guide to Children's Writers, Vol. 5; and Something about the Author, Vols. 4, 68, 138.

More From Encyclopedia.com


You Might Also Like