Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Make Way for Ducklings

With its art drawn simply and a lack of color, one could look at Robert McCloskey's book and do one of two things: pass it by due to its lack of catchy color or look into it further because the very lack of color makes it stand out from a sea of brightly colored children's books.

The story is all the more better for the lack of wildly detailed artwork. Given a simple picture of what each page details is just enough for a little one's imagination to take off and fill in the colors and details on their own; all the while being told of a cute story of Mr. and Mrs. Mallard's journey to find a place to raise ducklings.

We follow the duck couple as they fly over Boston and weigh their options of where to make a nest. Ultimately they settle on a specific island and the ducklings are hatched. The book comes to its climax with Mrs. Mallard attempting to take the children on a trip through Boston. In a comic twist not far from reality (it seems that every year there is another story of some good samaritans or public figures are helping a family of ducks such as a bank employee helping out a family of ducks a few years ago and more recently, this recent news article about the secret service helping a family of ducks at the White House) the ducks stop traffic with the help of friendly police officers.

Make Way for Ducklings, originally published in 1941 and continuously being in print since that date, has been been placed in the Picture Book Hall of Fame and received the Caldecott Medal in 1942. It was even designated the official children's book of Massachusetts in 2003. The book is still popular today whilst  being listed as one of the top 100 children books of all time. The story has been immortalized at the Boston Gardens where a series of statues depicting the ducklings and Mrs. Mallard stand.

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