One Morning in Maine

Pin It

I hate Robert McCloskey!

I mean - I "hate" him.

When he weaves his picture book story magic, my kids are immediately transformed into two angels - right in front of my eyes.

But when I try a similar trick, to grab their attention with a children's story that I conjure up from my mind, I just get a firm "Dad, leave!" accompanied with an outstretched small index finger - pointing out of the room.

How does Robert McCloskey manage to cast such a spell?

Oh, the sheer joy - I see it in their faces when they start running barefoot from their bedroom to the bookshelf, choosing books for this evening's read-aloud session.

"This, this, this AND THIS!" Yes, One Morning in Maine again! And I smile, as I am secretly looking forward to it as well. The book never ceases to impress.

They lie down on their beds as two perfect angels. Their expressions change. They become 100% pure innocence.

That metamorphosis begins. The McCloskey transformation. I can see it. Masks fall. Innocence in its pure form. 

How did it start?

Make Way for Ducklings - which I reviewed earlier - opened the charmed McCloskey door in our house.

But One Morning in Maine - a Caldecott Honor book - smashed the door down.
It's a blast of healthy living, an overdose of wind, water, nature and family - all combined.

I am ashamed to admit that I never read Robert McCloskey's books when I was a kid. Not one.

The only up side to it is that I can truly say that I can be objective. No rosy childhood memories to cloud my judgement.

In fact, I was even apprehensive initially about this book. One Morning in Maine sounded too dated, too local and possibly a product of times that have long passed us.

A warning bell rings in my head when I read too many reviews of a book that go along these lines: "This was the favourite book of my childhood and now I want my kids/grand-kids to read it". This makes me wonder whether the book is good or whether reviewers are longing for their lost youth.

So, when I ordered One Morning in Maine - I was really apprehensive about what would we get. Someone's old favourite - or ours?

Well, Mr McCloskey won again - hands down.
This is a timeless book - and so it is as modern as they get. This is a story about humanity and childhood. This book will never get dated.

As all good children's books do, One Morning in Maine puts the spotlight squarely on ... children or animals.

The morning begins and all options are open. One Morning in Maine is a story that simply unrolls before our eyes - effortlessly.

Sal - the small protagonist of McCloskey's Blueberries for Sal - wakes up one morning and decides to stay in bed, when she remembers that this is the day that she and her baby sister Jane - another McCloskey gem - are due to go with father by boat to Buck's Harbor to pick up groceries. ("Today is the day that I go to Buck's Harbor with my father!")

As she brushes her teeth, Sal discovers that one of her teeth is loose and she frenetically runs down to her mom who calms Sal down by telling her that she is growing up and that the tooth fairy will fulfill a wish.

(My twins were fascinated with the loose tooth element of the story. After checking their teeth repeatedly and wiggling their tongues inside their little mouths, they also started questioning me - like Sal - whether loons, fish hawks, seals have teeth or not)

After breakfast, Sal goes down to the beach to find her dad to help him dig out clams on the beach. On the way she has marvelous encounters with a fish hawk carrying a fish to her baby fish hawks in a nest, a loon, a sea gull and a seal.

After helping out her dad to dig out clams, Sal loses her tooth and faces the hurt of a double loss (tooth and wish) in the same morning.

Still, the trip to Buck's Harbor is a true adventure with the outboard motor failing, Dad rowing all the way and when they reach Buck's Harbor and meet up with the two Mr Condons (one runs the grocery store and the other brother a garage) - Sal's secret wish for chocolate ice cream does come true.

Simple story, yet deep deep emotions.

Black and white drawings, yet every page filled with rich palpable life.

This is another McCloskey magic potion - a stunning book that sparks curiosity and wonder.

It's time to daydream again. Don't miss it - it will make your kids go all warm on the inside.

(And yes, I don't really hate Robert McCloskey - I simply envy him)

One Morning in Maine is available from bookstores in the US:


The Book Depository (free worldwide shipping)

and from other countries:

Amazon UK
Amazon CA
Amazon DE

Or check out an audio edition (unabridged) below:



    1. McCloskey's books are some of my favorite children's books. Perhaps he's so revered because he can spin a yarn that appeals to children as well as adults. Plus the illustrations are so wonderful. 

    2. Hi Eric,

      You know, you have a great point there. I find that all the best children's books are in fact great books. Regardless of age. 

      That is why kids love the very best ... as the authors of the very best children's books are in fact writing the very best stories. 

      Long live great (children's) literature!

      Read Aloud Dad

      Re: @61e7837364923d99ef4c170143900ba0