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Author/Illustrator Spotlight::Robert McCloskey

I’m probably coming a little late to the party for this particular author and illustrator, but my only exposure to him as a child that I recall is Make Way for Ducklings.  It is certainly a charming book in its own right (not to mention that it’s a Caldecott Medal winner!), but I must’ve been a little too old (or something?) for it to make a huge impression on me.  (Either that, or now I’m reverting back to my second childhood.)  When I discovered One Morning in Maine, I positively fell in love.  I’m not sure what it is about this book–the relationship we’ve already established with the younger Sal through Blueberries for Sal, the fact that my girls are just about the age that Sal is in One Morning in Maine, or just the simple fact that this somewhat lengthy picture book has so many interesting details about life in coastal Maine.  (An island, even!) Sal’s delight over losing a tooth; her consternation over losing (as in misplacing) that tooth while going clam digging with her father; and her fastidious care for her little sister while they travel by boat across the bay to do some shopping are just perfect–McCloskey really nailed the age, I think.   This one’s definitely going on my Best Picture Books list.

I was interested to note that McCloskey only wrote eight books.  To quote Eleanor Blau, the author of McCloskey’s NY Times obituary, “It had to be right, and it often was.”  My girls and I have also enjoyed Time of Wonder, another book for which McCloskey won the Caldecott Medal.  It didn’t grab me quite as much as One Morning in Maine, but it also doesn’t have such an endearing heroine.  I also think I prefer the black-and-white illustrations of his earlier works over the color ones in Time of Wonder.

I would really like to read McCloskey’s Homer Price and its sequel, Centerburg Tales: More Adventures of Homer Price.  His obituary states that these are full of tall tales; I’m not sure if this means they are tall tales or if they contain tall tales.  Something I’ve read before about them makes me think the latter.  Has anyone read these?

If you haven’t introduced your children to the wonder of Robert McCloskey, don’t wait.  I’m planning to “Row” Lentil some time this spring.  I can’t wait!  (For more on Lentil, check out Lisa’s post.)


5 Responses

  1. We’ve read Homer Price as a chapter book and it is a lot of fun. While my girls sat through it (and I think it was the first cpt book we read together) I think a boy would REALLY enjoy it. It’s high adventure little boy style and just lots of fun. You would definitely enjoy it! (Robert McCloskey also illustrated the Henry Reed books that I loved growing up and are also very fun books to have on hand if you can find them). 🙂

  2. What a wonderful spotlight on McCloskey, Amy. He’s a favorite of mine, too.

    Good question about Homer Price … Rocko read it on his own, but I haven’t glanced through it yet.

    Thanks for the book review mention. I really missed participating in Read-Aloud Thursday yesterday, but this was a crazy week … I can’t wait until it’s over!

  3. I grew up with the McCloskey books and still love them. I agree with you about Time of Wonder – it’s not as great as the black and white drawings. You’ll love Lentil!

  4. I’m a McCloskey fan too — of the picture books more than Homer Price. We’ve read a few excerpts of HP in my daughter’s writing text, and they weren’t tall tales themselves, so I’d bet your instincts are right.

    Thanks for a lovely tribute post. I did one last year for the Celebrate the Author challenge and was delighted to see statues of the ‘Make Way’ ducks in the Boston Public Garden: http://www.schon.com/public/ducklings-boston.php

  5. We enjoyed Make Way for Ducklings and Blueberries For Sal many times over when my kids were young, but I don’t remember ever seeing his other books. Thanks for the memories!

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