Mr. McCloskey’s Marvelous Mallards: The Making of “Make Way for Ducklings.”

Astra/Calkins Creek. Nov. 2022. 40p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781635923926.
Gr 1-3–Though the tale has been told before, notably in Leonard Marcus’s Caldecott Celebration, this stand-alone account of how young illustrator Robert McCloskey filled his urban studio with live ducks in order to get his depictions of them “better than just okay” will give readers of all ages a sense of the dedication that went into creating the timeless classic Make Way for Ducklings. Stadtlander’s views of a workspace and bathroom overrun with ducks as the serious-looking artist, sketchbook in hand, crawls under a table in pursuit of just the right angle reinforce the episode’s sense of fun, and reproductions of his actual drawings scattered throughout will encourage closer, more appreciative examination of the finished art. Smith and McCloskey’s daughter Jane contribute afterwords about the artist, his work, and his legendary editor, May Massee.
VERDICT Make way for a comical episode that offers insight into the hard work of creativity, in general and in the case of one picture book that has been admired and loved for generations.

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