Norman Bridwell, who died last week at 86, was living proof that there really are no absolutes in life, and that especially includes rejection. The story has been told a hundred times. A commercial artist by training, he stumbled onto the idea of a children’s book series featuring the happenings and mishaps of an affectionate red dog who happens to be bigger than a house. One after another, editors told him either he couldn’t draw or couldn’t write or knew nothing about children. It was enough for a guy to crawl into an oversized dog suit and galumph off into the valley of tears.

But, in pursuit of affirmation, you must keep your perspective as well as your head. If nine editors tell you to find another day job, that just means a measly sampling doesn’t understand what you’re doing or what their customers want. That means somewhere out there, there’s a magical 10th editor, someone on your wavelength. Serendipitously, Norman found that person at Scholastic Publishing. The rest is kiddie lit history.

Norman, who majored in modesty, was shocked by his good fortune, bowled over by the larger-than-life status that came with fame, yet remained greatly appreciative, extremely personable and comfortable in his own skin. As I reread that last sentence, I guess you can say the same about his creation, Clifford. And both of them understood children.

To be sure, Norman had a wonder about him, an innocence. Case in point: once I was at his home in Edgartown when he received a Scholastic package full of Clifford-shaped pencil erasers — a nice little marketing gift.

“That must be some good pocket money for you,” I insinuated. Norman gave me a look that resembled Clifford trying to comprehend what he had just heard. Turns out he never thought to ask. Now he would. A few weeks later, Norman called me. “I’m taking you out to dinner. Name your restaurant. A check from Scholastic just arrived.”

I first met Norman and his wife, Norma, about 25 years ago when I was hired by Scholastic to produce a half-hour video to be marketed and distributed to schools across the country, so Norman could relax an overtaxed schedule of public appearances. Since the video was a joint venture with WCVB, Boston’s Channel 5 (my then employer), it was aired in 1991 as a TV special. For that broadcast, I won a New England Emmy. Thank you, Norman.

As we all are, I am left with nothing but fond memories of this gentle man. He will surely be missed. Norman Bridwell was an incredible asset to the human race and his tales will be read forever. Or should I say his tails will be red forever?

Arnie Reisman and his wife Paula Lyons regularly appear on the weekly NPR comedy quiz show, Says You! He also writes for the Huffington Post.