Mr. McCloskey's Marvelous Mallards: The Making of Make Way for Ducklings


Product Details

$18.99  $17.66
Calkins Creek Books
Publish Date
8.7 X 11.1 X 0.4 inches | 0.95 pounds

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About the Author

Emma Bland Smith is the award-winning author of The Most Famous Wolf in the West, The Pig War, as well as other fiction and nonfiction books for children. Emma is also a librarian.

Becca Stadtlander is an illustrator and fine artist. In 2019, she won the Golden Kite Award for Picture Book Illustration for Made by Hand: A Crafts Sampler. Picture books she has illustrated include Fearless World Traveler and On the Wing. Her work is also featured in adult books, editorial publications, stationery, home decor products, and book covers.
Illustrator website:


★[T]his 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. 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. --School Library Journal, starred review

Making a picture book isn't all it's quacked up to be...Smith and Stadtlander reconstruct how Robert McCloskey wrote and illustrated the story, meticulously rearranging words until the text was perfect and agonizing over how ducks would behave in the story....The gouache and colored pencil illustrations...capture both the quiet moments of work and the hectic life of multiple ducks living in a New York apartment. Without doubt, this will be a favorite for both older and younger generations alike! Make way for a wonderful tale about the creation of a classic children's book. --Kirkus Reviews

Inspired by one of the more charming origin stories in the history of children's literature, the new book shows the time, energy, determination, and craftsmanship required to create a book that seems so effortlessly right. Smith's narrative includes gentle humor, reflected in Stadtlander's gouache-and-colored-pencil illustrations portraying McCloskey at work and the absurdity of living with ducks. A pleasing tribute to McCloskey and his work. --Booklist

Smith emphasizes her subject's determination...with the spreads depicting the ducks' 'terrible mess' and 'infernal quacking' being sure to delight young readers. Stadtlander captures it all, including the ducks' chaos, in thickly textured gouache and colored-pencil illustrations. This is the children's version of [this] tale...and a satisfying one at that. --The Horn Book

Bland Smith focuses squarely on a single, knotty problem that Robert McCloskey (1914-2003) encountered while working on his now-iconic Make Way for Ducklings...In textural, place-oriented gouache and colored pencil spreads, Stadtlander shows McCloskey training home with a box of live ducklings and a sheepish expression on his face, fielding skeptical looks from other passengers. He soon discovers that the ducks make difficult roommates, but his work pays off, a success that crowns this step-by-step portrait of an artist working through to a solution. --Publishers Weekly

"Emma Smith has done a bang-up job imagining how my father wrote Make Way for Ducklings. I enjoyed reading her book." --Jane McCloskey, daughter of Robert McCloskey and author of Robert McCloskey: A Private Life in Words and Pictures

"A wonderfully rollicking rendition of the story behind the story." --Gary D. Schmidt, Newbery Honor-winning author of books for children and author of Robert McCloskey