While planning our recent trip to Boston, everyone in the family gathered to voice individual “must-sees.” Of course, Fenway Park, with its iconic Green Monster, topped the list for most of us. A tour of Boston University also made the list, as well as many Revolutionary War sites. That our arrival date coincided with the Boston Marathon was just a bonus. However, when I expressed interest in seeing the statues erected in honor of the 1942 Caldecott winner, Make Way for Ducklings, I was met with groans. But I was insistent. I am, after all, a children’s librarian. (And while in Boston’s Public Garden, I was going to see the swan boats, too!) My husband wasn’t familiar with Robert McCloskey’s 1941 classic about Mr. and Mrs. Mallard’s search for a new home, but my kids knew it. I’d read it to them many times over the years; it still has a place on our bookshelf – but a picture book statue as a sightseeing destination? They definitely weren’t for it.
After two days spent watching the Red Sox and touring Boston U, my day finally arrived, and we purchased trolley passes. Imagine the family’s surprise when not one, but two different drivers passed a copy of Make Way for Ducklings around the trolley for the passengers’ perusal. One driver even stopped to point out the intersection where fictional ducklings, Jack, Kack, Lack, Mack, Nack, Ouack, Pack and Quack crossed the street under the protection of the local cop. By the time we finally disembarked at Boston’s Public Garden on a drizzling, chilly, spring afternoon, the entire family was looking forward to seeing the ducks. Despite the weather, we had to wait for several minutes to take photos, as families, tourists from other countries, elderly fans, and a single woman (who asked me to take her photo), were all waiting in the rain for a turn with Mrs. Mallard and her famous ducklings.
In Boston, there is nary a mention of Robert McCloskey’s second Caldecott winner, 1958’s Time of Wonder, or his Caldecott Honor book, 1949’s Blueberries for Sal.
Know any other towns with such a long-standing love affair with a picture book?