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Teaching an Author Study

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Robert McCloskey

Robert McCloskey

Robert McCloskey is one of the more decorated and acclaimed authors in the history of children's literature. An early recipient of the Caldecott Medal for Make Way For Ducklings, he would go on to become the first two time winner of the prize with Time of Wonder. If you read McCloskey's picture books, you will notice his pronounced interest in place, as well his emphasis on the topic of family. Make Way For Ducklings is familiar to many readers, old and young, especially those from the Boston area--because of this book's strong cultural association with the Boston Public Garden where it takes place.

But Mr. and Mrs. Mallard are not the only parents McCloskey portrayed in his stories for children, nor is Boston the only locale he worked tirelessly to illustrate. Meet Sal, McCloskey's own daughter, who ventures out into nature to gather Maine blueberries with mom, in Blueberries for Sal. In One Morning in Maine, you will recognize Sal again, this time a bit more grown up, this time hunting for clams with dad (to make chowder for lunch.) And this time, there is another young daughter in the background of every illustration--Sal's little sister Jane, usually off on her own adventures. Finally, McCloskey rounded out a trilogy of picture books about his family's life in Maine, with Time of Wonder. Here, the girls are off on their own on a summer's day in Penobscot Bay. With the characters grown older, the prose of the story has likewise become a bit more sophisticated. McCloskey's rich landscapes, as well, are now filled out in color.

Though McCloskey was not born in New England, he made his life here, and the works he produced about Boston and Maine reveal much about his experience, and his family's life in the places he recreated on the page. Check out some of his works to learn more!

Picture Books at the ERC

Questions to Consider

After reading more than one book by this author, ask yourself:

  • What is the same or different across multiple texts?
  • How does Robert McCloskey develop ideas about childhood, family, or growing up across multiple texts?
  • How does his approach change from one text to another?
  • How might the life of the author, or the world he lived in, have informed his work?
     

Further Reading

Make Way for Ducklings at the Boston Public Garden

Broader Context