Make Way for Ducklings
by: Robert McCloskey
published by: The Viking Press
I’m not sure how I missed reading this delightful picture book when my children were young, but my grandchildren will be well-acquainted with its charm.
It is a sweet story of two ducks, Mr. and Mrs. Mallard, who are searching for a place to live and raise their expected brood of ducklings: “But every time Mr. Mallard saw what looked like a nice place, Mrs. Mallard said it was no good. There were sure to be foxes in the woods or turtles in the water, and she was not going to raise a family where there might be foxes or turtles.“
“When they got to Boston, they felt too tired to fly any further. There was a nice pond in the Public Garden, with a little island on it. ‘The very place to spend the night,’ quacked Mr. Mallard. So down they flapped.”
“Just as they were getting ready to start on their way, a strange enormous bird came by. It was pushing a boat full of people, and there was a man sitting on its back. ‘Good morning,’ quacked Mr. Mallard, being polite. The big bird was too proud to answer. But the people on the boat threw peanuts into the water, so the Mallards followed them all round the pond and got another breakfast…”
Mrs. Mallard was ready to settle and raise her family in the Garden, but after she was almost run over by a child on a bicycle she changed her mind. “We’ll have to look somewhere else.”
“So they flew over Beacon Hill and round the State House, but here was no place there.”
“They looked in Louisburg Square, but there was no water to swim in.”
“Then they flew over the Charles River. ‘This is better,’ quacked Mr. Mallard. ‘That island looks like a nice quiet place, and it’s only a little way from the Public Garden.’
‘Yes,’ said Mrs. Mallard, remembering the peanuts. ‘That looks like just the right place to hatch ducklings.'”
So they chose a cozy spot among the bushes near the water and settled down to build their nest.
… There they met a policeman called Michael. Michael fed them peanuts, and after that the Mallards called on Michael every day.”
One day the eight ducklings hatched: Jack, Kack, Lack, Mack, Back, Ouack, Pack, and Quack.
When the time came for them to find permanent housing, they remembered the island in the Public Garden. With the help of Michael, the policeman, Mrs. Mallard and all eight ducklings walked across Longfellow bridge, down Charles Street, across Beacon Street, and into the Garden.
This lovely story is now memorialized in a bronze statue located just as you enter the Public Garden. Young children love to interact with Mrs. Mallard and climb on top of the various baby ducklings.
I look forward to sharing this book with grandchildren, letting them enjoy the book’s illustrations of Boston and then comparing those to my actual photographs. And hopefully… some day… I can take them to this great city to experience its rich beauty and history for themselves.