Make Way For Ducklings

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Mr. and Mrs Mallard were looking for a place to live. 

Yes, I know its a classic.

Yes, I know it is the Caldecott Medal winner as "The most distinguished American picture book for children in the year of its publication" (1941).

Yes, I know its a Robert McCloskey book with his quintessential illustrations.

Yes, I know it has already been a favourite around the globe for many generations.
Entrance sign to the Boston Public Gardens                         
But still, I was interested how would this 70-year old black and white favourite fare in the eyes of my three-year old twins.

They had seen many colourful and flashy children's books prior to getting to know the elegant pair of ducks - the Mallards. What would they think of it?

Would this be a read-aloud that makes me happy and bores them to death? I was unsure. Boston was a completely foreign concept to them, even I never visited the place. 

The story begins simply enough. The pair of ducks, Mr. and Mrs. Mallard, decide to make a rest stopover in the pond of the Public Garden in Boston, hoping that there are no foxes or turtles in the surroundings. Although the Public Garden seems like the ideal place for raising a family, they change their minds after encountering speeding bikes in the park. They switch locations to an island in the Charles River not far from the Public Garden. Mrs Mallard lays eight eggs, their family grows and the Mallards get to know a stout policeman named Michael who feeds then and ultimately stops the traffic for Mrs Mallard to walk though the city back to the Public Garden where Mr Mallard was waiting for the family. 

To my surprise, my car-crazy, truck-loving three-year old son was immediately fascinated by the story of a pair of ducks flying over Boston, looking for a good place to nest, lay eggs and create a family. Night after night I got asked to read the book, with unwavering enthusiasm. While my son got attached to the ducks, my daughter forged a special bond with the policeman in the book - transposing his character onto me, and vice-versa. Six months have passed since we started reading the book and it remains a firm read-aloud favourite.

make way for ducklingsIn the Boston Public GardenThe combination of nature and city, urban and rural is one of the magic elements of Make Way for Ducklings, as children naturally enjoy rural story elements but identify stronger with urban settings that they recognize from their daily lives. 

We never read a Robert Mcloskey book before setting eyes on Make Way for Ducklings. And it changed our lives. This was the first of many McCloskey books that subsequently arrived by post to our house. 

To date, I still joke with my twins and call them "Mr. and Mrs. Mallard" and I get a coy smile from each of them followed by an outburst of laughter and activity. Of course, you can easily guess who is the portly Michael in our family.

available from Amazon USA