In 1942, artist Robert McCloskey won the Caldecott medal for his picture book Make Way for Ducklings. When he won the award, it was only the fifth time that the medal had been awarded and he had never heard of it before.
McCloskey was inspired to write the story from a newspaper article he had read about a family of ducks walking through the streets of Boston. To be able to draw the ducks he studied the ‘stuffed’ ones at the museum, but eventually bought sixteen of his own that lived with him and his roommate in his apartment.
McCloskey also wanted to colour his picture book. His editor felt that at 64 pages in length, the book was already pricey to produce and printing coloured pictures was an added expensive risk to take.
As hindsight can tell us today, Make Way for Ducklings was well worth publishing and is a favourite of many people still in 2014. The book is a staple on Woozles’ shelves, and customers delight in finding that it is still readily available to read to their children and grandchildren.
A bronze sculpture of the duck family from this book can be found in the Boston Public Gardens.
Robert McCloskey went on to win one more Caldecott Medal and three Caldecott Honor awards.
source: A Caldecott Celebration: Six Artists and Their Paths to the Caldecott Medal by Leonard S. Marcus