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A week with Clifford – Part 5

Scholastic, which has published the Clifford the Big Red Dog books for 50 years, commissioned Clifford: Live, a musical that is now touring the country. Here’s the link if you’d like to see whether the show will be playing somewhere near you. As you can see from the accompanying photo, Clifford is indeed big. Wouldn’t [...]

A week with Clifford – Part 4

Norman Bridwell needed a name for the little girl who shared her life with Clifford the Big Red Dog in that first book published back in 1963. Coming up with the name proved to be easy. Bridwell’s wife, Norma, had just given birth to their first child . . . and they had named her [...]

A week with Clifford – Part 3

Only when Clifford the Big Red Dog became established as what we would say today is a franchise did Norman Bridwell wrote a prequel, the story of Clifford as a puppy. “After I did, I think, four books of the big dog,” Bridwell said in a recent NPR interview, “I got letters from kids asking [...]

A week with Clifford – Part 2

Norman Bridwell was a not-very-successful artist in New York City in 1962, struggling to pay the bills. In frustration, or maybe encouragement, his wife said to him, you’ve always wanted to illustrate children’s books, why don’t you try it? Why not? So he did 10 demo paintings and sent them to publishers. Fifteen turned him [...]

A week with Clifford – Part 1

Readers of the Clifford the Big Red Dog stories and friends of Clifford and his creator, Norman Bridwell, celebrated the big dog’s 50th birthday last week on this day. Hard to believe that the pooch as big as a house has been around for a half a century . . . in books, plush toys, [...]

A week of memorable titles – Part 3

I was doing a bit of online research last week on James Cain’s crime novel, The Postman Always Rings Twice, and up popped Bruce Hale’s mystery novel for kids, The Possum Always Rings Twice. One look at the cover and I was hooked. A Chet Gecko mystery . . . Chet Gecko, Private Eye: “Trouble [...]

Goodbye, Encyclopedia Brown

I wondered why I hadn’t read the Encyclopedia Brown mysteries. When I perused creator Donald Sobol’s obituary – he died last month – I found out why. I’m too old. Sobol didn’t publish his first “Encyclopedia Brown: Boy Detective” until 1963. I was out of college by then and in my first year teaching high [...]

Olympic mysteries – Part 5

There are a lot of Olympics mysteries out there in the bookstores, but few are for you and me. Most are targeted at children and teens. So for my last pick for my week of Olympics mysteries, I give you “Gold Medal Murder,” a Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys Super Mystery, published in 2010. [...]

Olympic mysteries – Part 2

All right, this one is a bit nutty, but in British writer David Hughston’s first young adult mystery, “Gold Medal Saboteurs,” a race of talking bears is set to take over the London Olympics. Really, talking bears. But they look like humans. So says Hughston. Hairy humans, probably. Anyway, Scotland Yard has received a tip [...]

Meet the man who launched a books-for-kids-in-crisis project

Paul Gilbertson wanted to be a writer of children’s books. He lives not too far from me, up the road in DeForest, Wisconsin. Four years ago, Gilbertson went to New York, to attend a book expo, hoping he might connect with a publisher who would help him launch his career. While there, he saw a [...]