Robert McCloskey

It’s been written than Robert McCloskey used to refer to his writing as a  “sort of an accident.” Well wouldn’t we all love to have been so accident prone as he was?

How many artists, writers or illustrators would have loved to have written two Caldecott Medal-winning stories? McCloskey wrote two in his career. Two our of 8 written and illustrated books. That’s more than an accident. I’d say that’s tremendous genius.

Here’s a list of the books both written and illustrate by him:

  • Lentil
  • Make Way For Ducklings (Caldecott Medal)
  • Homer Price
  • Blueberries for Sal (Caldecott Honor)
  • Centerburg Tales
  • One Morning in Maine (Caldecott Honor)
  • Time of Wonder (Caldecott Medal)
  • Burt Dow, Deep Water-man

What I love most about McCloskey’s work is how expressive and fluid his drawings are. They straddle the line between lifelike interpretations and actual cartoons and are so utterly clean, despite depicting complex scenes. Perhaps that’s why people love his work so much. But it could, of course, be his stories.

I must have first become aware of McCloskey’s work sometime when I was very young. I clearly recall being read Blueberries for Sal and Make Way For Ducklings. I also remember receiving a copy of Homer Price through the Scholastic Book Club and reading it a few times.

Ducklings especially has captured the hearts of countless fans throughout the years. The book tells the story of a family of mallard ducks that decide to live in the Public Garden in the heart of Boston. Through the help of a friendly policeman, the family manages to avoid terrifying traffic and settles down peacefully near a pond. The book was ultimately named the official children’s book of Massachusetts, and the ducklings themselves (along with their mother) have been immortalized in bronze inside the Boston Public Garden for all to enjoy.

McCloskey’s books in particular take my back to my childhood in ways that are hard to put into words. They make me feel particularly grateful for the gift of reading at an early age and for so many memories associated with them.

McCloskey did illustrate a number of other books, but he appears to have stopped publishing anything after Burt Dow, Deep Water-man in 1963. I can find no reason as to why. He passed away on Deer Isle, Maine in 2003 at the age of 88.


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