Readerz.Net / Robert McCloskey
John Robert McCloskey (September 14, 1914 – June 30, 2003) was an American writer and illustrator of children's books. He both wrote and illustrated nine picture books and won two Caldecott Medals from the American Library Association recognizing the year's best-illustrated picture book. Four of those 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 all on the coast. His best-known work is another of the picture books, 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.
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 some time raising eight ducklings on the island, the mother leads them to the Public Garden downtown. Famously, a friendly policeman stops traffic for them to cross a busy street. The story soon became a Boston institution. Sculptor Nancy Schön created a bronze version 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.
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 illustrator only