“Look out!” squawked Mrs. Mallard, all of a dither. “You’ll get run over!”
It was the first book I ever owned; I’m pretty certain that every child in my family received a copy of Robert McCloskey’s Make Way for Ducklings, first published in 1941. After all, we’re
Boston born and/or bred...we’ve got tattered
and torn copies in hardcover, softcover; we’ve got them in bookcases, attics
It’s right up there with the family Bible.
Make Way for Ducklings is the story of a pair of ducks (Mr. and Mrs. Mallard, of course – who needs anything more sophisticated than that?) who search the
area for a proper place to raise a family. After an overnight rest in the Public Garden,
where they encounter a one of the city’s famous swan boats (they think it’s a
big bird) and have a close call with a kid on a bicycle, they set up
housekeeping on an island in the Charles River.
After their ducklings are born, Mr. Mallard takes off to explore the area, leaving Mrs. at home with the children (don’t get me started on that!); they agree to meet up again in the
in one week. While the Mister has
a grand time investigating other parts of the river, Mrs. Mallard is left to
teach their children all they need to know about being ducks: how to swim, dive
for food, walk in a line, etc. Public Garden
One week later, Mrs. Mallard leads her ducklings off the island and across the highway (what is now Storrow Drive -- a major artery in/out of the city proper) on her way to the Public Garden to meet Mr. Mallard. A local policeman stops traffic for her; pedestrians admire her family as she struts down the sidewalks. There’s a squad car at
Beacon Street; four policemen halt the
traffic to ensure safe crossing there, and, finally, Mrs. Mallard and the
ducklings are reunited with Mr. Mallard in the lagoon in the . Boston Public
They live, of course, happily ever after.
In 1987, a bronze statue of Mrs. Mallard and her eight ducklings was installed in a walkway made of old
cobblestone. In 1989, my nephew visited; here he is, atop Mrs. Mallard, with
Jack, Kack, Lack, Mack, Nack, Ouak, Pack and Quack trailing along behind!