Monday, April 28, 2008

Make Way for Ducklings

Children's librarians all know Make Way for Ducklings. We learn about it in children's literature courses. We have to keep repurchasing it for our collections. We see it on the lists of Caldecott winners (it won in 1942). I have a soft spot for it. Even though I know that every time I read it I find it a little too long. And even though it is very much of its 1940s time. There is something special about the ducklings.

Make Way for Ducklings takes place in Boston. Mr. and Mrs. Mallard are looking for a place to nest. They fly over various historic sites, and wind up in the Public Garden. Things look good until Mrs. Mallard almost meets with an untimely demise. They move along and nest up the river on an island. There, they meet a policeman who feeds them peanuts. Soon enough there are eight little ducklings named, rhymingly, Jack, Kack, Lack, Mack, Nack, Ouack, Pack, and Quack.

For some reason Mr. Mallard then goes off to explore the river, leaving Mrs. Mallard to care for the ducklings, and to bring them back to the Public Garden to be reunited with him the following week. When the group set off they encounter traffic, and their friend the policeman directs traffic, and arranges for other policemen to do the same, so that they can make their way safely back to the Garden.

The book has never been out of print, and has continued to be so popular over the years that it has now been declared the "official" children's book of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

So, why all this talk of the ducklings? Because, in 1987, a copper statue of the ducklings and Mrs. Mallard was installed in the Boston Public Garden!

This was, obviously, one of the Deranged Squirrel's and my first stops when we hit Boston. And it was lovely!

The statues themselves are all quite small, but they are spread out in a lovely line, and are very inviting for the small children who were climbing on them and kissing them, etc., and for all the adults who stopped by. It took us a long period of statue stalking to get a chance for a pic without other people!

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