A special guest visited first-graders Friday afternoon.
It was a red dog day Friday at Deerfield School.
Clifford, that big, red, lovable dog of book and movie fame, made a visit to the first-grade classrooms of Linda Wilson and Virginia Williams. Clifford dropped in for awhile during the afternoon as part of work the students have been doing since the start of school.
"The Clifford books lend themselves to beginning-of-the-year types of things -- safety, manners, good deeds, the alphabet, numbers," Wilson said.
Before Clifford walked down the hall from the media center, where he doubles as librarian/media specialist Cathy Ebmeier, the first-graders tried to guess who their special visitor might be.
What about a Tyrannosaurus Rex, if he was tame, one child asked. Another thought ice cream would make a good visitor. Another guessed that a fire truck and ambulance were coming to the school, 101 Lawrence Ave.
But it was Justin Grassmeyer who first asked, "Is Clifford coming?"
Later, Justin said he wasn't quite sure what prompted him to think the guest might be Clifford. But after a little thought, he said, "Because we have a lot of Clifford stuff in our room."
Indeed. The children have Clifford attached to the nametags on their desks, they've read a Clifford book nearly every day, they've written sentences and drawn pictures based on those books, and they've seen a video on the author of the series.
As the big, red dog made his way into the classroom, he pulled a red wagon, piled high with Clifford books. Clifford barked, flipped his long ears around, wagged his tail and generally performed for the children.
Then he answered some of their questions.
Are you real? Clifford nodded yes. Are you good at home? Clifford nodded yes, then shook his head no, then shrugged.
After a few minutes of questions, the children shifted to high praise for Clifford.
"I really like your book when you go to Hollywood," said Amanda Steffen.
Clifford gave each child one of his books, which he'd borrowed from the school library, and then took a brief nap on the floor. When he came to, Clifford distributed treats to each child.
The surprise visitor was a real hit with the children.
As Quin Jackson proclaimed, "I think he's the greatest dog in the whole wide world."