September 15: Happy Birthday, Robert McCloskey


If asked to pick one author that exemplifies Maine, it would be Robert McCloskey. If asked to pick an author who understands the lives of children, it would still be McCloskey.

McCloskey actually was “from away,” born on this date in 1914 in Ohio. But his careful, detailed, and observant drawings and stories of life on the Maine coast are beloved by generations of kids and adults beyond Downeast.

Recently, I was pleased to find my 5-year-old reading One Morning in Maine aloud to herself after waking up.

McCloskey was not overly prolific, writing and illustrating just eight books, but what great books they are! He won two Caldecott Medals for his work (Make Way for Ducklings and Time of Wonder) and several Caldecott Honors (Blueberries for Sal and One Morning in Maine, plus Journey Cake, Ho!, which he illustrated for author Ruth Sawyer, who would become his mother-in-law).

Ways to Celebrate: Want to celebrate McCloskey’s contributions to children’s literature? Have blueberries and clam chowder for lunch, of course. You can also sample the catch of the day. For dessert, go to town and get a chocolate ice cream cone. Just please, please don’t eat any duck.

Bookswain Facts*: McCloskey bought several live ducks before writing and illustrating Make Way for Ducklings while living in Boston. He summered on Scott Island, a small Maine island off Deer Isle with his wife, Peggy, and daughters, Sally and Jane, who you can find in his books.

*Impress your friends.