Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentine Post: Heart in the River, A Big Red Birthday Hug, and How I Learned To Read

The usual! I took this in Fairmount Park, somewhere near Philadelphia, on a great trip a couple of years ago to go see some Pirate Burlesque on the barkentine Gazela with Will and Elizabeth - what a great trip that was, and this has become my standard Valentine's Day picture 'cause I love it & it's perfect for my outdoorsy/watery theme.

Plus - what better day for a Big Red Hug? :D

Yeah, working in children's publishing does have its good points sometimes! Thank you to Brian at A Movable Bridge for taking the picture - the first nice lunchtime surprise was running into him up in the cafeteria, and then as I was talking to him, Clifford came sneaking up behind me. Clifford's celebrating his 50th birthday this year - we kicked off the festivities last Fall, because it was in 1962 that Norman Bridwell first sent a set of his drawings to an editor who really took a shine to one of a little girl and a big red dog and suggested that that pair might make an interesting basis for a book of their own. Clifford the Big Red Dog came out in February 1963 and the big dog just got bigger and bigger from that point on. We've had balloons all week and today Clifford was up in the cafeteria handing out hugs and cupcakes!

There's a lovely interview with Norman Bridwell in School Library Journal (I actually laughed out loud reading the story about his editor warning him "You know, we're not running a Norman Bridwell book club...") - and as long as I am going on and on about Clifford I will just add that my favorite thing so far from the celebration was when Mr. and Mrs. Bridwell and their daughter, Emily Elizabeth (yes, THE Emily Elizabeth!) came to visit last year. Norman gave a very nice talk for the staff here, and at the reception afterwards we all got signed copies of The Clifford Collection. I just LOVED that because as a fortysomething, dyed-in-the-wool bookworm, one of the first books I remember was the original Clifford.

I suppose that I'm pretty good proof that one of the best ways to teach a kid to love to read is to read to that kid.  I remember getting read bedtime stories every night (or poems, and with poems I always wanted one more, and my dad would always close with, "I'll tell you the story of Jack and Ory, and now my story's begun; I'll tell you another about his brother, and now my story is done!", which drove me nuts because I never found out what EITHER of those stories were).  In doing so, my folks actually taught me how to read without realizing that they were doing so; I don't recall it myself but the story they've told me was that they figured out that I was reading along when one night one of them mis-read something, and I corrected them. At first they thought maybe I'd just memorized the story, but then they tried me on something I was less familiar with and I read that too. I don't know if Clifford was one of the titles I learned on but I do remember Clifford, and another Bridwell classic, The Witch Next Door, as being early, early favorites.

Funny thing about working here is that of course we're surrounded by Clifford all the time, but it's mostly the TV version and the Clifford I remember from "small-kid-time" was a much doggier sort of dog - like he didn't talk, and I was pretty sure I recalled him actually snarling at one point, and he was just generally a little less tidy in a way that I liked. I'd been thinking it would be fun to get my hands on a copy of the first one just to see whether I was remembering it right, but somehow never got around to it, so it was tons of fun to get this signed copy of the first 6 stories - turned out I was recalling correctly, and on top of that there's a great little intro section that includes the original drawing that started it all. Lots of fun. Happy Birthday Clifford!

1 comment:

PeconicPuffin said...

No Comment.

(that feels a bit Tillerly to me.)