Mr. McCloskey’s Marvelous Mallards: The Making of Make Way for Ducklings

While writing and illustrating the beloved picture book Make Way for Ducklings, Robert McCloskey brings a flock of ducklings into his tiny New York City apartment. But an artist + a bunch of ducklings in his apartment = chaos! There are ducklings in the bathtub and ducklings in the kitchen, quacking at dawn and sitting on his desk. Can he learn to draw them just right before they grow too big?

This glimpse into the creation of a much-loved story for kids is a must-read for fans of children’s books, or for anyone who is interested in the creative process and the importance of persistence.

From Calkins Creek, an imprint of Astra Publishing. November 1, 2022. Illustrations by Becca Stadtlander.

STARRED REVIEW ★ “Make way for a comical episode that offers insight into the hard work of creativity, in general and in the case of one picture book that has been admired and loved for generations.” –School Library Journal

“Without doubt, this will be a favorite for both older and younger generations alike! Make way for a wonderful tale about the creation of a classic children’s book. –Kirkus Reviews

“He soon discovers that the ducks make difficult roommates, but his work pays off, a success that crowns this step-by-step portrait of an artist working through to a solution.” –Publishers Weekly

“Smith emphasizes her subject’s determination (respectfully referring to him throughout as “Mr. McCloskey”), with the spreads depicting the ducks’ “terrible mess” and “infernal quacking” being sure to delight young readers. Stadtlander captures it all, including the ducks’ chaos, in thickly textured gouache and colored-pencil illustrations.” – Horn Book

“Inspired by one of the more charming origin stories in the history of children’s literature, the new book shows the time, energy, determination, and craftsmanship required to create a book that seems so effortlessly right. Smith’s narrative includes gentle humor, reflected in Stadtlander’s gouache-and-colored-pencil illustrations portraying McCloskey at work and the absurdity of living with ducks. A pleasing tribute to McCloskey and his work.” –Booklist

Junior Library Guild selection, 2022

Bank Street Best Books of the Year, 2023