Robert McCloskey

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Robert McCloskey
BornJohn Robert McCloskey
(1914-09-14)September 14, 1914
Hamilton, Ohio
DiedJune 30, 2003(2003-06-30) (aged 88)
Deer Isle, Maine, USA
OccupationWriter, illustrator
Alma mater Vesper George Art School [1]
Genre Children's picture books
Notable works
Notable awards Caldecott Medal
1942, 1957
SpouseMargaret Durand
ChildrenSally, Jane
Relatives Ruth Sawyer (mother-in-law) Melba McCloskey (sister) Dorothy McCloskey (sister) Howard McCloskey (father) Mable McCloskey (mother)

John Robert McCloskey (September 14, 1914 – June 30, 2003) was an American writer and illustrator of children's books. He wrote and also illustrated nine picture books, and won two Caldecott Medals from the American Library Association for the year's best-illustrated picture book. [1] [2] Four of the nine books were set in Maine: Blueberries for Sal, One Morning in Maine, Time of Wonder, and Burt Dow, Deep-water Man; the last three were all set on the coast. His best-known work is Make Way For Ducklings , set in Boston. In longer works, he both wrote and illustrated Homer Price and he illustrated Keith Robertson's Henry Reed series. [lower-alpha 1]


Personal life

McCloskey was born in Hamilton, Ohio, in 1914 to Howard and Mable McCloskey. He had two sisters, Melba and Dorothy. [3] [4] He reached Boston in 1932 with a scholarship to study at Vesper George Art School. After Vesper George, he moved to New York City for study at the National Academy of Design. [1]

In 1940, he married Peggy Durand, daughter of the children's writer Ruth Sawyer. [1] They had two daughters, Sally and Jane, and settled in New York State, spending summers on Scott Island, a small island off Little Deer Isle in East Penobscot Bay. [5] McCloskey's wife and elder daughter Sally are the models for little Sal and her mother in Blueberries for Sal (1948), a picture book set on a "Blueberry Hill" in the vicinity. Three others of his picture books are set on the coast and concern the sea.

Peggy died in 1991. Twelve years later on June 30, 2003, McCloskey died in Deer Isle, Maine.


McCloskey won the 1942 Caldecott Medal for Make Way for Ducklings . The story, set in Boston, Massachusetts, features a mallard pair that nests on an island in the Charles River. After raising eight ducklings on the island, the mother leads them to the Public Garden downtown. A friendly policeman stops traffic to let them cross a busy street. The story soon became a Boston institution. Sculptor Nancy Schön created a bronze statue of Mrs. Mallard and the ducklings in 1987, installed along a walkway between pond and street. [6] There thousands of children climb them every year and many more people photograph them; the park is also the annual site of a Make Way for Ducklings Mother's Day parade, featuring hundreds of children dressed in the costumes of their favorite characters. Since 2003 Make Way for Ducklings is the official children's book of Massachusetts. [7]

McCloskey won a second Caldecott Medal in 1958 for Time of Wonder . Meanwhile, he had been a runner-up in 1949 for Blueberries for Sal , in 1953 for One Morning in Maine , and in 1954 for JourneyCake, Ho!, the latter written by his mother-in-law Sawyer. [2] In a 1958 magazine article titled "Bob McCloskey, Inventor", another Medal winner Marc Simont observed that "[his] talent for devising mechanical contraptions is topped only by his ability to turn out books that carry off the Caldecott Medal." [8]

The Homer Price stories (two books) were translated into Russian-language in the 1970s and became popular in the Soviet Union. [9]

The U.S. Library of Congress named McCloskey a "Living Legend" in 2000. [10]


One chapter from Homer Price was adapted as a short film, The Doughnuts (1963). [11] The same chapter was adapted for an ABC Weekend Special called "Homer and the Wacky Doughnut Machine" (1977). [12] Another chapter, "The Case of the Cosmic Comic", was also adapted as a short film.

In 1964, film producer Morton Schindel and Weston Woods Studios made Robert McCloskey, an 18-minute documentary that is sometimes screened in art schools. It shows McCloskey sitting in Boston Public Garden intercut with pages from his sketchbook drawings for Make Way for Ducklings, while the illustrator recounts experiences that influenced his work and discusses the relationship of craftsmanship to inspiration. [13]

Public art

Derivative art

In Boston Public Garden a sculpture of a family of nine ducks, by the sculptor Nancy Schön, installed in 1987, commemorates McCloskey's Make Way for Ducklings. [17] A version was installed in Moscow in 1991. In Hamilton, Ohio, McCloskey's hometown, another sculpture by Schön, installed in 2002, depicts a boy and dog from McCloskey's first book, Lentil, published in 1940. McCloskey named the boy Lentil, but in a competition among schoolchildren the dog was given the name Harmony. [18] In Boothbay Harbor, Maine, in the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, another sculpture by Schön, dedicated in 2010 and known as Sal's Bear, depicts a baby bear and a nearby spilled pail of blueberries, based on the drawings in McCloskey's Blueberries for Sal. [19]


As author and illustrator

As illustrator only

See also


  1. 1 2 Henry Reed series. From 1958 to 1986, Keith Robertson wrote five books featuring the boy businessman Henry Reed.
    The Henry Reed books were reissued in 1989(?) paperback editions with ISBN   0-14-034144-7; ISBN   0-14-034145-5; ISBN   0-14-034146-3; ISBN   0-440-43570-6; ISBN   0-440-40104-6.

Related Research Articles

Picture book book with images at least as important as words, commonly directed at children and featuring a story

A picture book combines visual and verbal narratives in a book format, most often aimed at young children. With the narrative told primarily through text, they are distinct from comics, which do so primarily through sequential images. The images in picture books are commonly produced in a range of media, such as oil paints, acrylics, watercolor, and pencil, among others.

The Vesper George School of Art in Boston, Massachusetts, United States, closed in 1983. For many years the school contributed to the Boston art community, training many talented artists, many of whom are still active in both commercial art and fine arts. In addition to training artists, it served to allow many artists to maintain a living as instructors while they were building their careers.

Ruth Sawyer American childrens writer and storyteller

Ruth Sawyer was an American storyteller and a writer of fiction and non-fiction for children and adults. She may be best known as the author of Roller Skates, which won the 1937 Newbery Medal. She received the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award in 1965 for her lifetime achievement in children's literature.

Viking Press publisher

Viking Press is an American publishing company now owned by Penguin Random House. It was founded in New York City on March 1, 1925, by Harold K. Guinzburg and George S. Oppenheim and then acquired by the Penguin Group in 1975.

Donald Schön American academic

Donald Alan Schön was a philosopher and professor in urban planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who developed the concept of reflective practice and contributed to the theory of organizational learning.

<i>Make Way for Ducklings</i> childrens book by Robert McCloskey

Make Way for Ducklings is a children's picture book written and illustrated by Robert McCloskey. First published in 1941, the book tells the story of a pair of mallards who decide to raise their family on an island in the lagoon in Boston Public Garden, a park in the center of Boston.

Domestic duck farm animal

Domestic ducks are ducks that are raised for meat, eggs and down. Many ducks are also kept for show, as pets, or for their ornamental value. Almost all varieties of domestic duck apart from the Muscovy duck are descended from the mallard.

<i>Time of Wonder</i> book by Robert McCloskey

Time of Wonder is a 1957 children's book written and illustrated by Robert McCloskey that won the Caldecott Medal in 1958. The book tells the story of a family's summer on a Maine island overlooking Penobscot Bay, filled with bright images and simple alliteration. Rain, gulls, a foggy morning, the excitement of sailing, the quiet of the night, and the sudden terror of a hurricane are all expressed in this book. This was McCloskey's second Caldecott, the first being Make Way for Ducklings in 1942.

<i>Blueberries for Sal</i> childrens book by Robert McCloskey

Blueberries for Sal is a children's picture book by Robert McCloskey. It was awarded the Caldecott Honor in 1949.

Morton Schindel was an American educator, producer, and founder of Weston Woods Studios, which specializes in adapting children's books into animated films. He named the company after the wooded area outside his home in Weston, Connecticut. The Weston Woods Studios business address was 143 Main Street in Norwalk, Connecticut.

Weston Woods Studios

Weston Woods Studios is a production company that makes audio and short films based on well-known books for children. It was founded in 1953 by Morton Schindel in Weston, Connecticut, and named after the wooded area near his home. The company's first project was Andy and the Lion in 1954, and its first animated film was The Snowy Day in 1963. Starting in 1968, Weston Woods began a long collaboration with animator Gene Deitch and opened international offices in Henley-on-Thames, England, UK, in 1972; Canada in 1975; and Australia in 1977. In addition to making the films, the company also conducted interviews with the writers, illustrators, and makers of the films. The films appeared on children's television programs such as Captain Kangaroo, Pinwheel, The Great Space Coaster, Lunchbox, Eureeka's Castle, and Mister Moose's Fun Time. In the mid-1980s, the films were released on VHS under the Children's Circle titles, and Wood Knapp Video distributed these releases from 1988 to 1995.

Keith Carlton Robertson (1914–1991) was an American writer of children's books and murder mysteries. He was a former captain in the United States Navy.

Nancy Schön is a sculptor of public art displayed internationally. She is best known for her work in the Boston, Massachusetts area, notably her bronze duck and ducklings in the Boston Public Garden, a recreation of the duck family in Robert McCloskey's children's classic Make Way for Ducklings. It is featured on the Boston Women's Heritage Trail. In 1991, Barbara Bush gave a duplicate of this sculpture to Raisa Gorbachev as part of the START Treaty, and the work is displayed in Moscow's Novodevichy Park.

<i>One Morning in Maine</i> childrens book

One Morning in Maine is a picture book by Robert McCloskey set in Brooksville, Maine. It was awarded the Caldecott Honor in 1953. It features Robert McCloskey, his wife Peggy, and their two real-life daughters, Sarah ("Sal") and Jane. McCloskey was a professional illustrator, and drew his wife's and daughters' facial-features to accurately show what they really looked like. McCloskey also cleverly depicts the adventurously-rambunctious little Jane in his drawings of their mainland adventures; on every page, the robust tousle-headed toddler is usually shown to be exploringly bustling about independently of the two others in her group, engaged in "typical young tomboy" activities such as perching high up on a work-table, climbing on a stack of tires, snuggling with a furry puppy who has wandered into the garage, etc.

Marla Frazee American writer and illustrator

Marla Frazee is an American author and illustrator of children's literature. She has won two Caldecott Honors for picture book illustration.

Camp Campbell Gard is a YMCA camp located on 600 acres (2.4 km2) along the Great Miami River six miles (10 km) northeast of Hamilton, Ohio. The camp is on Augspurger Road in St. Clair Township.

Friends of the Public Garden

The Friends of the Public Garden (FOPG) is a non-profit organization founded in 1970 for the protection and preservation of the Boston Common, Public Garden, and Commonwealth Avenue Mall. Located in Boston, Massachusetts, the Friends of the Public Garden works with the Boston Parks Department to care for the trees, sculptures, gardens, and grounds in the three parks. The organization is supported by a full-time staff, board of directors, council, volunteers, and over 2,500 members. The group aims to care for the Boston Common, Public Garden, and Commonwealth Avenue Mall so that the parks can be fully enjoyed by current and future locals and visitors.

<i>A Big Mooncake for Little Star</i>

A Big Mooncake for Little Star is a 2018 picture book written and illustrated by Grace Lin. The story is about Little Star gradually eating the mooncake that her mother has baked. The book was a departure for Lin both thematically and in her use of illustrative style. The book was well reviewed and was awarded a Caldecott Honor. The illustrations feature heavy use of black and rely on both the pictures and words to convey the story and its themes.

Journey Cake, Ho! is a 1953 picture book written by Ruth Sawyer and illustrated by Robert McCloskey. The book tells the story of a boy who chases a journey cake around a farm. The book was a recipient of a 1954 Caldecott Honor for its illustrations.

<i>Make Way for Ducklings</i> (Schön)

Make Way for Ducklings is a sculpture by Nancy Schön, which recreates the duck family in Robert McCloskey's children's classic Make Way for Ducklings.


  1. 1 2 3 4 Blau, Eleanor (2003-07-01). "Robert McCloskey, 88, of 'Make Way for Ducklings,' Is Dead". Retrieved 2015-07-29.
  2. 1 2 "Caldecott Medal Winners, 1938 - Present | Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC)". Retrieved 2015-07-29.
  3. "The Journal News from Hamilton, Ohio on November 9, 1972 · Page 15".
  4. "Robert McCloskey".
  5. Google Maps: scott island, deer isle. Retrieved 2013-02-15.
  6. "Make Way for Ducklings, Boston by Nancy Schön". Retrieved 2015-07-29.
  7. "CIS: State Symbols". Retrieved 2015-07-29.
  8. "Bob McCloskey, Inventor - The Horn Book". 2013-07-18. Retrieved 2015-07-29.
  9. "Роберт Макклоски | Либрусек". 2011-04-24. Retrieved 2015-07-29.
  10. "Awards & Honors | About the Library | Library of Congress". Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. 20540 USA. Archived from the original on October 14, 2009.
  11. "The Doughnuts (1963)". Retrieved 2015-07-29.
  12. "ABC Weekend Specials: Season 1, Episode 4 : Homer and the Wacky Doughnut Machine". Retrieved 2015-07-29.
  13. "Robert McCloskey Movie Reviews, Information and Film Reviews for Robert McCloskey the Movie". Retrieved 2015-07-29.
  14. "Biography of Robert McCloskey | Heritage Hall". Retrieved 2018-02-02.
  15. "Does Anyone Want a Few Robert McCloskey Paintings?". Boston Magazine. 2016-07-28. Retrieved 2018-01-03.
  16. "Totem Pole". Heritage Hall. Retrieved 2019-04-18.
  17. "Make Way for Ducklings, (sculpture)". Smithsonian Art Inventories Catalog. Retrieved 30 June 2020.
  18. "Lentil and His Dog Harmony by Nancy Schön". Retrieved 2015-07-29.
  19. "Sal's Bear by Nancy Schön". Retrieved 30 June 2020.