Robert McCloskey

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Robert McCloskey
Born John Robert McCloskey
(1914-09-15)September 15, 1914
Hamilton, Ohio
Died June 30, 2003(2003-06-30) (aged 88)
Deer Isle, Maine, USA
Occupation Writer, illustrator
Nationality American
Alma mater Vesper George Art School[1]
Period 1940–1970
Genres Children's picture books
Notable work(s)
Notable award(s) Caldecott Medal
1942, 1957
Spouse(s) Margaret Durand
Children Sally, Jane
Relative(s) Ruth Sawyer (mother-in-law)

John Robert McCloskey (September 15, 1914 – June 30, 2003) was an American writer and illustrator of children's books. He both wrote and illustrated eight picture books and won two Caldecott Medals from the American Library Association recognizing the year's best-illustrated picture book.[1][2] Four of those eight books were set in Maine: Blueberries for Sal, One Morning in Maine, Time of Wonder, and Burt Dow, Deep-water Man; the last three all on the coast. He was also the writer for Make Way For Ducklings, as well as the illustrator for The Man Who Lost His Head.

Life[edit]

McCloskey was born in Hamilton, Ohio, during 1914 and reached Boston in 1932 with a scholarship to study at Vesper George Art School. After Vesper George he moved to New York City for study at the National Academy of Design.[1]

In 1940, he married Peggy Durand, daughter of the children's writer Ruth Sawyer.[1] They had two daughters, Sally and Jane, and settled in New York State, spending summers on Scott Island, a small island off Little Deer Isle in East Penobscot Bay.[3] McCloskey's wife and eldest daughter Sally are reputed to be the models for little Sal and her mother in Blueberries for Sal (1948), a picture book set on a "Blueberry Hill" in the vicinity. Three others of his picture books are set on the coast and concern the sea.

Peggy died in 1991. Twelve years later on June 30, 2003, McCloskey died at his home in Deer Isle, Maine.

Recognition[edit]

McCloskey's book Make Way for Ducklings (1941).

McCloskey won the 1942 Caldecott Medal for Make Way for Ducklings. The story set in Boston, Massachusetts features a mallard pair that nests on an island in the Charles River. After some time raising eight ducklings on the island, the mother leads them to the Public Garden downtown. Famously, a friendly policeman stops traffic for them to cross a busy street. The story soon became a Boston institution. Sculptor Nancy Schön created a bronze version of Mrs. Mallard and the ducklings in 1987, installed along a walkway between pond and street.[4] There thousands of children climb them every year and many more people photograph them; the park is also the annual site of a Make Way for Ducklings Mother's Day parade, featuring hundreds of children dressed in the costumes of their favorite characters. Since 2003 Make Way for Ducklings is the official children's book of Massachusetts.[5]

McCloskey won a second Caldecott Medal in 1958 for Time of Wonder. Meanwhile he had been a runner-up in 1949 for Blueberries for Sal, in 1953 for One Morning in Maine, and in 1954 for JourneyCake, Ho!, the latter written by his mother-in-law Sawyer.[2] In a 1958 magazine article titled "Bob McCloskey, Inventor", another Medal winner observed that "[his] talent for devising mechanical contraptions is topped only by his ability to turn out books that carry off the Caldecott Medal."[6]

The Homer Price stories (two books) were translated into Russian-language in the 1970s and became popular in the Soviet Union.[7]

Films[edit]

One chapter from Homer Price was adapted as a short film, The Doughnuts (1963).[8] The same chapter was adapted for an ABC Weekend Special called "Homer and the Wacky Doughnut Machine" (1977).[9] "The Case of the Cosmic Comic"[clarification needed] was also adapted as a short film.

In 1964, film producer Morton Schindel and Weston Woods Studios made Robert McCloskey, an 18-minute documentary that is sometimes screened in art schools. It shows McCloskey sitting in Boston Public Garden intercut with pages from his sketchbook drawings for Make Way for Ducklings, while the illustrator recounts experiences that influenced his work and discusses the relationship of craftsmanship to inspiration.[10]

In Hamilton, Ohio, McCloskey's hometown, there is a statue depicting a boy and dog from his first book, Lentil, published by Viking Press in 1940. McCloskey named only the boy, Lentil, but the dog is known as Harmony since a competition among schoolchildren.[11]

The U.S. Library of Congress named McCloskey a "Living Legend" in 2000.[12]

Public art[edit]

Books[edit]

As author and illustrator[edit]

As illustrator only[edit]

  • Yankee Doodle's Cousins (1941) written by Anne Malcolmson
  • Tree Toad: Adventures of the Kid Brother (1942) by Bob Davis, illus. McCloskey and Charles Dana Gibson
  • Young America's English Book One (1942) by Helen Fern Daringer
  • The Man Who Lost His Head (1942) by Claire Huchet Bishop; paperback reissue (1970) ISBN 0-440-84348-0
  • Trigger John's Son (1949) by Tom Robinson
  • Journey Cake, Ho (1953) by Ruth Sawyer, a Caldecott Honor Book
  • Junket: The Dog Who Liked Everything "Just So" (1955) by Anne H. White
  • Henry Reed, Inc. (1958), by Keith Robertson[a]
  • Henry Reed's Journey (1963), by Robertson
  • Henry Reed's Babysitting Service (1966), by Robertson
  • Henry Reed's Big Show (1970), by Robertson
  • Henry Reed's Think Tank (1986), by Robertson

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Henry Reed series. From 1958 to 1986, Keith Robertson wrote five books featuring the boy businessman Henry Reed.
    The Henry Reed books were reissued in 1989(?) paperback editions with ISBN 0-14-034144-7; ISBN 0-14-034145-5; ISBN 0-14-034146-3; ISBN 0-440-43570-6; ISBN 0-440-40104-6.

References[edit]

External links[edit]