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Norman Bridwell, creator of ‘Clifford the Big Red Dog,’ dead at 86

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Author Norman Bridwell is shown in 2012 with his famous character, Clifford the Big Red Dog. (Rich White / Scholastic)

(CNN) — Norman Bridwell, the creator of “Clifford the Big Red Dog,” has died, according to his publisher, Scholastic.

Bridwell died December 12 in Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. He was 86.

According to Scholastic, Bridwell’s “Clifford” books — and there are dozens of them — have sold millions of copies in 13 languages. Clifford also crossed over to television, starring on the PBS Kids series of the same name.

A movie is due in 2016.

“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 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.”

Clifford, an oversized, clumsy but good-natured dog whose curiosity sometimes gets him into mischief, was born in 1963. Bridwell originally wanted to name him “Tiny,” but his wife convinced him otherwise. Clifford’s friend, Emily Elizabeth, takes her name from one of Bridwell’s children.

The original Clifford story was about a runty pup who grows into a gigantic dog thanks to Emily Elizabeth’s care. Bridwell’s manuscript was turned down by nine publishers before Scholastic put it out.

“Clifford, the Big Red Dog” was succeeded by such titles as “Clifford Gets a Job,” “Clifford and the Grouchy Neighbors” and “Clifford Follows His Nose.”

Other Bridwell books include “A Tiny Family” and “The Witch Next Door.”

Bridwell is survived by his wife, Norma, his daughter Emily Elizabeth, his son Timothy and three grandchildren.