Norman Bridwell, the creator of Clifford, that big red dog who was as lovable as he was implausibe, has passed away at the age of 86. His books, which grace the shelves of any kindergarten and elementary school classroom will live on in his memory.

Scholastic has released a statement about about Bridwell's death, which occurred on December 12th:

"Norman Bridwell's books about Clifford, childhood's most loveable dog, could only have been written by a gentle man with a great sense of humor," said Scholastic Chairman and CEO Dick Robinson.

Norman Bridwell wrote dozens of books about "Clifford the Big Red Dog."

"Norman 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."

As a fan of Clifford, I am very saddened by this loss. I first discovered Clifford in second grade (when I spoke very little English) and enjoyed the simple pictures as well as the fact that somewhere, somehow there were parents willing to let a small child have a dog that was as big as a house. And also that they didn't care about the fact that the dog was very, very clumsy.

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So if you're looking for kids' gifts this year, introducing them to the big red dog (how is that dog so red?) would be a great way to honor Bridwell's memory.