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Blueberries for Sal (Viking Kestrel picture books) 1st (first) Edition by McCloskey Robert published by Viking Juvenile (1948) Hardcover
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Robert McCloskey

Robert McCloskey

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. 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.

Personal life

McCloskey was born in Hamilton, Ohio, in 1914 to Howard and Mable McCloskey. He had two sisters, Melba and Dorothy. 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.

In 1940, he married Peggy Durand, daughter of the children's writer Ruth Sawyer. 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. McCloskey's wife and eldest 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 statu of Mrs. Mallard and the ducklings in 1987, installed along a walkway between pond and street. 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.

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. 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."

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

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


One chapter from Homer Price was adapted as a short film, The Doughnuts (1963). The same chapter was adapted for an ABC Weekend Special called "Homer and the Wacky Doughnut Machine" (1977). 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.

Public art

  • Sculpture (completed 1935), Hamilton, Ohio Municipal Building — McCloskey created models for relief bias.
  • Murals (1939), including six formerly housed in the Sloan Building (E52) on the MIT campus — McCloskey assisted Francis Scott Bradford depicting Beacon Hill socialites in large murals commissioned by the Lever Brothers of Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • Totem Pole, now housed in the Hamilton, Ohio Municipal Building museum — McCloskey carved the totem pole while a counselor at Camp Campbell Gard where it stood for over 50 years

Derivative art

In Boston, in 1987, as mentioned above, statues of the Ducklings from Make Way for Ducklings were installed in the Boston Public Gardens. Nancy Schon was the sculptor.

In Hamilton, Ohio, McCloskey's hometown, there is a statue by the sculptor Nancy Schon depicting a boy and dog from his first book, Lentil, published by Viking Press in 1940. McCloskey named the boy, Lentil, but in a competition among schoolchildren the dog was given the name Harmony. The sculpture was installed in 2002

In Boothbay Maine at the Maine Coastal Botanical Gardens. there is a statue by Nancy Schon of the Bear from Blueberries for Sal, installed in 2010.

In Moscow, in 1991, the START treaty between the United States and the Soviet Union was signed by George H.W. Bush and Mijail Gorbachov. To commemorate the event, replica statues of the Ducklings in the Boston Public Gardens were given by the children of the United States to the children of the Soviet Union and installed in Novodevichy Park in Moscow.

In Hamilton, Ohio, a mural incorporating scenes from Robert McCloskey's books was installed in 2016. The mural was designed by Stephen Smith.


As author and illustrator

  • Lentil (1940)
  • Make Way for Ducklings (1941), Caldecott Medal winner
  • Homer Price (1943)
  • Blueberries for Sal (1948), a Caldecott runner-up
  • Centerburg Tales: More Adventures of Homer Price (1951); also issued as More Homer Price
  • One Morning in Maine (1952), a Caldecott runner-up
  • Time of Wonder (1957), Caldecott Medal winner
  • Burt Dow, Deep-water Man (1963)
  • Here Come the Chucks for Halloween

As illustrator only

  • Yankee Doodle's Cousins (1941) written by Anne Malcolmson
  • Tree Toad: Adventures of the Kid Brother (1942) by Bob Davis, illus. McCloskey and Charles Dana Gibson
  • Young America's English Book One (1942) by Helen Fern Daringer
  • The Man Who Lost His Head (1942) by Claire Huchet Bishop; paperback reissue (1970) ISBN 0-440-84348-0
  • Trigger John's Son (1949) by Tom Robinson
  • Journey Cake, Ho (1953) by Ruth Sawyer, a Caldecott Honor Book
  • Junket: The Dog Who Liked Everything "Just So" (1955) by Anne H. White
  • Henry Reed, Inc. (1958), by Keith Robertson
  • Henry Reed's Journey (1963), by Robertson
  • Henry Reed's Babysitting Service (1966), by Robertson
  • Henry Reed's Big Show (1970), by Robertson

See also



External links

  • "Maine Kennecott Winners by Robert McCloskey" by Elizabeth Kennedy, children's book guide at
  • "Robert McCloskey" interviewed by Anita Silvey Horn Book Radio Review

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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