Because Not Everyone Loves Clifford

clifford-1The Clifford the Big Red Dog books may be considered classics, but they’ve never done much for me. The plotlines tend toward the preachy, the illustrations are crude (what is with Emily Elizabeth’s zombie eyes?), and that cheery little Birdwell Island strikes me as the kind of place where way too many people know your business. A few days ago when I was watching an old Louis C.K. special I was thrilled to see the (big red) comedian let loose a two-and-a-half-minute rant against Clifford.

Worth watching if you haven’t seen it:

An infinitely better book about a little girl with a pet dog the size of a house is The Lonesome Puppy (2008), the only children’s book by the great Japanese artist Yoshimoto Nara. In his story, the premise is that the gigantic canine is neglected and overlooked because nobody even realizes he’s a dog; he finally finds a friend in a feisty, moon-eyed little girl (one of Nara’s signature cute-fierce characters). The tale has a poetic spareness and the artwork is, of course, ravishing.


Lonesome-Puppy-4Coincidentally, Pace Gallery recently had a fantastic exhibition of Nara’s new paintings and cast bronze sculptures. It closed June 29 but you can see all the images here.

2 thoughts on “Because Not Everyone Loves Clifford

  1. Heather

    First of all, I love your blog. Children’s books are a weakness of mine (in the best way possible, of course).

    This was hilarious. You know, I liked the first book when I was a kid, but Louis C.K. is totally right…they’re only about the bigness of Clifford. I think the world could have had one Clifford book and called it good. That said, I’m excited to show my boys The Lonesome Puppy. Not only is the style super-cool, but it actually seems to have a message and theme to it, plus a sort of zen-like vibe. Awesome. Thanks for the recommendation!

  2. Kaitlin

    OMG, I feel the SAME WAY about Clifford. While I have seen from my brief experience as a mom and my many years of teaching that there are certain books I don’t love that connect with children on a level that we cannot possibly understand, I simply can’t behind Clifford. Gah. I have a few just because there are always holiday versions and I like to put together a little basket of books around the holidays to read with my little guy, but I couldn’t even muster the interest to bring them out of storage last Christmas. And can I tell you how much I LOVE that you found this Louis CK clip? As if I didn’t adore you already! 🙂 P.S. Thanks so much for your last recommendation, for the “Summer” book. I bought it for my guy’s birthday and we’ve been reading it quite a bit. So charming!


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