Video:Profile of Robert McCloskeywith Anita Silvey
Robert McCloskey wrote the popular children's book "Make Way for Ducklings." Learn more about Robert McCloskey in this profile.See Transcript
Transcript:Profile of Robert McCloskey
I'm Anita Silvey, author of Everything I Need to Know I Learned From a Children's Book and the Children's Book a Day Almanac On-Line, and I'm here for About.com.
Biography of Robert McCloskey
Let's talk about the work and life of Robert McCloskey. Robert McCloskey comes from a small town in Ohio. He is a midwestern boy through and through. He's going to spend a few years in Boston and New York and then he's going to go spend the rest of his time in Maine, which were the final settings for his books. He really shows you what small town America, farms, the country, the Maine coast, can be like.
How Robert McCloskey Thought of "Make Way for Ducklings"
Of course, he's often best known for "Make Way for Ducklings," which is a great Boston book. And McCloskey was studying here as an art student. He came upon an article in The Boston Globe about a police officer that stopped traffic here on Beacon Hill. And, he knew, he knew, he had a great book for children.
And when you read it now it's just remarkable, everybody knows the story of these ducklings, who are essentially saved, traffic is stopped and they are allowed to walk through Boston to get back to their home in the public garden. There's no sense of disorder in this world. The illustrations are completely realistic. They're beautiful. Very nurturing of the American dream, of the idea that order prevails, and, the government will take care of everybody, even little baby ducklings.
Robert McCloskey's Problems Drawing Ducks
And then he discovered much to his horror that he did not know how to draw ducks, because you know, if you're going to have a book about ducks, unfortunately you must be able to draw ducks. So, he went to the parks to draw them, he went to the Natural History museum to draw them. He was getting more and more frantic. He went down to Greenwich Village, he bought a dozen ducks and he brought them back and he put them in his bath tub. And he let them out of the bath tub in the morning and he, as he said, he followed them around with a sketch pad in one hand and a Kleenex in the other. And even then they moved too fast.
So he and his roommate, Mark Samant, were having dinner one night, and the boys decided that if they gave the ducks some red wine and he drew all of the ducks. And he said eventually the male mallard became addicted and demanded every night a little red wine. We have about a 1000 drawings of duck's bills, duck's. He was willing to go any mile to get this book exactly right.
"Mrs. Mallard stepped out to cross the road. Honk, honk went the horns on the speeding cars. Quack went Mrs. Mallard as she tumbled back again. Quack, quack, quack, quack went Jack, cack, lack, mack, whack, pack, and cack. Just as loud as their little quackers could quack."
It's a very comforting world view in the work of McCloskey.
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