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Mr. McCloskey's Marvelous Mallards




Calkins Creek

(Astra Books for Young Readers)

(pub.11.1.2022) 40 pages

Author: Emma Bland Smth

Illustrator: Becca Stadtlander

Character: Robert McCloskey


" While writing and illustrating the beloved picture book Make Way for Ducklings, Robert McCloskey brings a flock of ducklings into his tiny New York City apartment. But an artist + a bunch of ducklings in his apartment = chaos! There are ducklings in the bathtub and ducklings in the kitchen, quacking at dawn and sitting on his desk. Can he learn to draw them just right before they grow too big?"

Tantalizing taste:

" For the next few months, the ducklings lived in Mr. McCloskey's studio. It wasn't easy using them as models - they did not cooperate! They wouldn't stay still, and they clumped together instead of walking in a row ...

But Mr. McCloskey was determined. He crawled around studying the ducklings. He sketched then waddling and running, plopping down and jumping up. He crawled around after them so much, his knees just about gave out on him!

His sketches were getting there. But they still weren't good enough - not for his editor, and not for him. Even the ducks didn't seem to think much of them.

I can do better, he thought. I have to do better!

He was willing to do whatever it took to make these drawings perfect. So he thought a bit and then - he did what any reasonable person would do: He went out and bought more ducks. Grown ones, this time."

And something more: Emma Bland Smith, in the Author's Note explains that "only when I was an adult did I make the connection that the girl in Blueberries for Sal was the very same little girl as the main character in One Morning in Maine. And I never thought about the two books the same way again. Later, I learned that the people and settings in both books were directly inspired by Robert McCloskey's real life on an island in Maine... I was enchanted. (Perhaps it's not a coincidence that four of my own books are set on islands!

...Robert McCloskey's dedication, persistence, and insistence on research and accuracy combine with the charms of his characters and settings to create some of the most beloved books in children's literature."

And yes, speaking of well researched, charming books with island settings, I recently featured on this blog another of Emma Bland Smith's books ... The Gardener of Alcatraz - A True Story.


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