Norman Bridwell, creator of Clifford The Big Red Dog, has died. He was 86. Bridwell published the first Clifford book in 1963, landing at Scholastic after being rejected by nine other publishing houses. Ultimately, he wrote more than 150 books for the publisher, and more than 129 million copies of those books are in print in more than 13 languages. The character of Clifford was also the subject of an Emmy-award winning animated TV show on PBS in the early ’00s.

In a statement, Dick Robinson, chairman and president of Scholastic, said that “the magic of the character and stories Norman created with Clifford is that children can see themselves in this big dog who tries very hard to be good, but is somewhat clumsy and always bumping into things and making mistakes. What comforts the reader is that Clifford is always forgiven by Emily Elizabeth, who loves him unconditionally.” (Not so coincidentally, Emily Elizabeth is also the name of Bridwell’s actual daughter.) Robinson also said that Bridwell “personified the values that we as parents and educators hope to communicate to our children—kindness, compassion, helpfulness, gratitude—through the Clifford stories which have been loved for more than 50 years.”

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Two Clifford books written by Bridwell will be published posthumously in 2015: Clifford Goes To Kindergarten, coming in May, and Clifford Celebrates Hanukkah, coming in the fall.

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