Builder of much of my childhood, Robert McClosky (b. September 15, 1914, d. June 30, 2003) was an American author and illustrator of children's books. His subjects centered mostly on his native New England, specifically Maine, although some books leave their settings imprecise. He is perhaps most remembered for the 1947 book Make Way for Ducklings - a day-to-day tale of a mother Mallard and her hatchlings as they make their way through downtown Boston to the Public Gardens and the pond there. As a young boy, my favorite were the Homer Price books, written for a slightly older (and distinctly male) audience, full of ingenuity, mechanical genius, skullduggery and general good fun. Two of his books won the prestigious Caldecott Medal for children's writing - Make Way for Ducklings and Time of Wonder from 1958. Several others received honors.

McClosky's writing on mechanical whizzcrackery was not pure fiction. According to his contemporaries, he himself was a mechanical and electrical genius, living as he did in a house on a small island which necessarily provided for all its own power, transport, pumping of water and waste, and all other little conveniences.

If you visit Boston's Public Gardens, large bronze statues of Mother Mallard and her Ducklings await you, where they are favorites for climbing and picture-taking among children to this day.


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