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Author Of 'Clifford' Children's Books Dies At 86

The creator of Clifford The Big, Red Dog died last Friday . Norman Bridwell wrote about 150 Clifford books that were translated into 13 languages and sold nearly 130 million copies.

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Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Norman Bridwell, the man who created "Clifford The Big Red Dog," has died. Clifford romps through about 150 children's books, a series on PBS Kids and a movie coming out next year. NPR's Neda Ulaby has this remembrance of the best-selling author.

NEDA ULABY, BYLINE: Norman Bridwell was one of those kids who fantasized about having a dog so big he could ride it around like a horse. But Clifford is the size of a house. H got so big because his owner, Emily Elizabeth, loves him so much, even when he gets into trouble, which he always does.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "CLIFFORD'S REALLY BIG MOVIE")

GREY DELISLE: (As Emily Elizabeth) Is something wrong, Mr. Bleakman?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: That big red fur ball of yours is near my fence.

ULABY: Clifford's origin story begins in 1962, as Bridwell told NPR two years ago.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

NORMAN BRIDWELL: I was a struggling, not very succesful artist in New York...

ULABY: Who had always wanted to illustrate children's books. He took a bunch of paintings around to publishers, who all rejected him...

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

BRIDWELL: ...Except that one publisher, a young woman, said well, you're not very good. She said if you want to illustrate a book, you'll probably have to write one of your own. She pointed to a sample painting I had done of a little girl with a gigantic red dog, and she said, maybe that's a story.

ULABY: Bridwell wrote the first one the following weekend and the Clifford stories would go on to be translated into 13 languages and sell almost 130 million copies. The little girl, Emily Elizabeth, is named after Bridwell's daughter.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "CLIFFORD'S REALLY BIG MOVIE")

DELISLE: (As Emily Elizabeth) And next time, I'll be sure to put those treats away somewhere you can't reach them.

JOHN RITTER: (As Clifford) Hey, everybody makes mistakes sometimes.

DELISLE: (As Emily Elizabeth) Even the best dog in the whole wide world, my Clifford.

ULABY: Norman Bridwell, who created "Clifford The Big Red Dog," died Friday in Martha's Vineyard. He was 86 years old. Neda Ulaby, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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