Tuesday, July 1, 2003

Oh, that's too bad.

A WSJ piece about children's author and illustrator Robert McCloskey, who died on Monday.

Make Way for Ducklings is one of my favorite picture books, ever. We still read out of the one I've had since I was a child. It shows the power of books on a young mind: when I think of Boston, ducks and even Irish policeman, it's always contextualized by Make Way for Ducklings.

The ducks in "Make Way for Ducklings" must find a place to live, nothing more and nothing less. That place will be in Boston, where a stout policeman named Michael (what else but an Irishman?) will help the nesting family navigate traffic. The Charles River, Beacon Hill and Louisburg Square set the scene.

The ducks' behavior is endowed with transcendent nuance, delightful to human children who recognize their own mothers in Mrs. Mallard. The mother duck puts her bill in the air and "walks along with an extra swing in her waddle" when a passerby admires her offspring. McCloskey wrote that Mrs. Mallard tells Mr. Mallard: " 'don't you worry, I know all about bringing up children.' And she did."