Robert McCloskey (September 15 1914 – June 30, 2003) was an American author and illustrator of children's books. McCloskey, well-known for his portrayals of New England, wrote and illustrated eight books, the most famous of which was Make Way for Ducklings, the 1942 Caldecott Medal winner. He won a second Caldecott Medal in 1958 for Time of Wonder. He also received Caldecott Honors for Blueberries for Sal in 1949, One Morning in Maine in 1953 and JourneyCake, Ho! in 1954.
Make Way for Ducklings, published in 1941, tells of a mallard family that comes to live in a pond in the Public Garden in the center of Boston, Massachusetts and how a friendly policeman stops traffic when the mother takes her eight ducklings across the street. This story has become an institution in Boston, and in 2003, it was named the official children's book of Massachusetts. In 1987, sculptor Nancy Schon created a bronze version of Mrs. Mallard and the ducklings in the Public Garden, which are climbed on by thousands of children every year. The park is also the site of an annual Make Way for Ducklings Mother's Day parade, featuring hundreds of children dressed in the costumes of their favorite characters.
The central scene of Make Way for Ducklings, showing automobile traffic waiting as the ducklings cross the street, was used as an assignment in the series of textbooks edited by Coulton Waugh for the Art Instruction, Inc. correspondence school.
McCloskey was also the author and illustrator of the Homer Price stories, featuring a boy in a small Midwestern city whose curiosity and ingenuity leads him to foil bank robbers, find the world's largest weed and repair a doughnut machine so well that it can't be shut off. A chapter from Homer Price was adapted into a short film, The Doughnuts (1963). The same chapter was adapted for an ABC Weekend Special called "Homer and the Wacky Doughnut Machine" (1977).
During World War II, he married Margaret (Peggy) Durand, daughter of children's author Ruth Sawyer. They had two daughters, Sarah and Jane, and settled in New York City, spending summers on Scott Island, Maine. That was the setting for his Caldecott Honor book, Blueberries for Sal, whose characters little Sal and her mother are reputed to be based on McCloskey's wife and eldest daughter Sarah.
McCloskey's wife Peggy died in 1991. Twelve years later, in 2003, McCloskey died at his home in Deer Isle, Maine, at the age of 88. He was survived by his two daughters and by two grandchildren, Samantha and Seth.
Bob McCloskey’s talent for devising mechanical contraptions is topped only by his ability to turn out books that carry off the Caldecott Medal. I think there’s a great book in a collection of Robert McCloskey Inventions.
This flair of Bob’s for mechanical contraptions was very hard on his mother when, as a youngster, he came up with a machine for whipping cream. Being a generous boy, he didn’t spare the juice, so when this whirling monster came in contact with the cream, it splattered a milky-way pattern around all four kitchen walls.
Time of Wonder is a poetic, pictorial record of his island home in Maine. But what the pictures in the book don’t show is the staggering amount of equipment that it takes to turn a house on an island into a comfortable home. Bob is caretaker and up-keeper of electric generators, water pumps, winches, boat engines, etc., but the amazing thing is that he still has enough humor left to indulge in such refinements as hi-fi sets (which require special generators) and electrically run roasting spits.
In 1947 I was able to benefit from Bob’s mechanical wizardry. I had just bought a car — a 1927 Pontiac — which had a good engine, I was told, and lots of dignity, which I could see. My wife and I borrowed the McCloskeys’ car and went to pick it up. On the way back I drove the McCloskeys’ car while my wife brought along the antique (as head of the family I can’t afford to take chances). We proudly showed it off to the McCloskeys, but when it was time to leave, it wouldn’t start. I raised the hood and looked wise; Bob turned the crank a few times and listened. He removed a few bolts and a section of the fly-wheel housing came out. Then he reached in and pulled out the remains of a mouse nest. All the car needed (for him who could tell) was a little old-fashioned spring cleaning. The motor started and we were on our way.
In 1964, the Oscar-nominated film producer Morton Schindel and Weston Woods Studios (Norwalk, Connecticut) made the 18-minute Robert McCloskey, a documentary which is sometimes screened in art schools. The film shows McCloskey sitting in Boston Public Garden and intercuts pages from his sketchbook drawings for Make Way for Ducklings. The illustrator discusses experiences that have influenced his work and the relationship of craftsmanship to inspiration.
Patriotic group plans for parade Church to host spring dance 'Hatitude 2004' benefits day shelter Caldecott honors go to illustrators
Apr 27, 2004; THIS ELECTRONIC VERSION MAY DIFFER SLIGHTLY FROM PRINTED VERSIONGARY Mark Monday, May 31 -- Memorial Day -- on your calendar. The...