Make Way For Ducklings

Written & Illustrated by Robert McCloskey

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This book by McCloskey won the Caldecott Medal in 1942 and has continued to be a favorite for young children with over two million copies sold. It is also the official children's book for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Make Way for Duckling Parade

Literary Elements

Plot: The book begins with Mr. & Mrs. Mallard searching for a home for their growing family. They end up in the city of Boston. They first arrive in the Boston Public Garden but decide it is too busy for little ducklings. They end up finding a suitable home on the Charles River and befriend an officer who feeds them. Mrs. Mallard gives birth to eight little ducklings. After a few days they decide it is time to head back to the Garden. Mr. Mallard leaves first and plans to meet his family there. Because the ducklings are so little they need to make the journey by foot. Mrs. Mallard lines up her children and leads them through the city streets with the help of the officer to keep them safe. The family reunites in the garden where they swim along swan boats and eat and endless amount of peanuts.


Characters: Pedestrians, Officer, Mr. &. Mrs Mallard, the Ducklings; Jack, Kack, Lack, Mack, Nack, Ouack, Pack, and Quack.


Setting: The city of Boston, Charles River, and The Boston Public Garden. The setting is seen throughout the book. When the two parents are flying over the city the reader has an aerial view as if they were flying in the sky. Also, the Charles and The Boston Public Garden are depicted in the book.


Theme: The theme of this story is a parent's love for their children. The way Mr. & Mrs. Mallard search for a safe place for their children to live and grow up shows, their love for the ducklings. This is seen throughout the illustrations because of the way the parents are seen with the ducklings. In this picture Mrs. Mallard has her ducklings in a structured line following behind her so she can keep a close eye on them throughout their journey.


Style: The tone of this book is heartwarming, loving, and funny. The word choice is very easy to understand because of the audience that the book is written for. The text in this book also has rhythm, for example the names of the eight ducklings. The book is structured in a way that it is an easy book to read aloud. McCloskeys' usage of short and long sentences is a nice way to break up the book. The style can be seen throughout the illustrations. On the pictures there are car horns and the ducklings are seen quacking.

Physical Features

Size: The size of the book is wider and taller than most picture books.


Shape: The shape of this book is a tall rectangle, but it is very suiting for the book because of the realistic style the pictures are displayed like.


Cover: The cover to this book is very simple. It is a solid green background with the title written in cream. The cover shows Mrs. Mallard with her eight ducklings.


Font Matters: The font is a very good size for this picture book. It is big enough to stand out, but not overshadow the pictures.


Paper: The illustration was lithographed on zinc plates. The paper is white also.


How do these elements contribute to a meaningful experience to this book?

The pages turn nicely and carry along the story. The pictures coincide with each other and tell the story in each page. The simple aspects of the book also make it feel very much connected to nature. The shape of the book is larger than most picture books, but I feel as if the larger pages help to make the pictures more elaborate to the eyes.

Visual Elements

Picture One

Line: The main focus of the page are the ducks flying because they take up most of the space and they are flying horizontally. The lines drawn in this picture are thin in the background, but the main focus the ducks flying are thicker


Color: The colors in this book are very minimal. McCloskey was running late on time and money. He illustrated the book with charcoal, then lithographed the pictures on zinc plates. This makes the book seem very natural to the readers. This helps with the nature of the ducks and the garden.


Shape: These are closed shapes. The repeated shapes are the ducks. They ducks throughout this book are displayed as very life like.


Texture: The pictures in this book are very realistic. To do this there needs to be layers of brush strokes which can be seen with the charcoal. The textual effects of the ducks and the feathers make it look more realistic. The textures in this book are mainly soft to remain the tone of loving and caring. The texture of this book also brings the nature and the ducks to life in a three dimensional way.


Composition: The arrangement of this picture shows the Mr. & Mrs. Mallard flying over Boston. The proportions in this picture are actually very interesting. McCloskey wanted the reader to feel as if they are in the sky with the ducks. By doing this he had to make the picture look as if the reader is looking down at the city streets as the parent ducks are doing.


Point of View: The view from this picture is an aerial view. The reader sees the city throughout the eyes of Mr. & Mrs. Mallard.


Distance: The background of this picture is very small because it is supposed to look like the reader is in the sky with the Mallards.

Picture Two

Line: The cars run on a horizontal line. The ducks in the background are so thin that they can barely be seen the officer is thicker because he is the main focus.


Color: The colors in this book are very minimal. McCloskey was running late on time and money. He illustrated the book with charcoal, then lithographed the pictures on zinc plates. This makes the book seem very natural to the readers. This helps with the nature of the ducks and the garden.


Shape: There are open and closed shapes in this picture. The ducks are not the main focus of the picture. A new shape in this picture is the officer.


Texture: The pictures in this book are very realistic. To do this there needs to be layers of brush strokes which can be seen with the charcoal. The textual effects of the ducks and the feathers make it look more realistic. The textures in this book are mainly soft to remain the tone of loving and caring. The texture of this book also brings the nature and the ducks to life in a three dimensional way.


Composition: The arrangement of this picture is showing the officer when he realizes the ducks are about to cross the street. The proportions show how little the ducks are because of how far away they are from the officer.


Point of View: This picture is seen throughout the eyes of the officer when he realizes the ducks are about to cross the street.


Distance: The officer is the closest subject in this picture. The ducks are drawn very small to make them look as if they were very far away in relation to the officer.

Picture Three

Line: There are horizontal and vertical lines on the bridge. The lines in this picture are the same thickness because it is just an overview of the garden.


Color: The colors in this book are very minimal. McCloskey was running late on time and money. He illustrated the book with charcoal, then lithographed the pictures on zinc plates. This makes the book seem very natural to the readers. This helps with the nature of the ducks and the garden.


Shape: The shapes in this picture display the Boston Public Garden. The shapes are closed. There are also circle shapes on the light posts.


Texture: The pictures in this book are very realistic. To do this there needs to be layers of brush strokes which can be seen with the charcoal. The textual effects of the ducks and the feathers make it look more realistic. The textures in this book are mainly soft to remain the tone of loving and caring. The texture of this book also brings the nature and the ducks to life in a three dimensional way.


Composition: The arrangement of this picture is showing the Mallard family's new home to the reader. Everything is very well proportioned in comparison to the ducks sizes. This picture is also very realistic.


Point of View: In this picture it looks as if the reader is a visitor in the park and watching the Mallard family.


Distance: The objects in this picture are drawn in a way that feels as if the reader was in the Public Garden with the Mallard family. From where the reader is positioned they can see a big tree which is a focus point of the picture with a bridge in the far distance.

Picture Four

Line: The grass in the background runs horizontally. The eggs are drawn with very thin lines to show how fragile they are. The mother is thicker because she is seen as the protector and main focus.


Color: The colors in this book are very minimal. McCloskey was running late on time and money. He illustrated the book with charcoal, then lithographed the pictures on zinc plates. This makes the book seem very natural to the readers. This helps with the nature of the ducks and the garden.


Shape: Mrs. Mallard and her duckling eggs are the main focus of the page. The nest and eggs are in a circle shape which translates to comfort and protection. The figures are also very life like.


Texture: The pictures in this book are very realistic. To do this there needs to be layers of brush strokes which can be seen with the charcoal. The textual effects of the ducks and the feathers make it look more realistic. The textures in this book are mainly soft to remain the tone of loving and caring. The texture of this book also brings the nature and the ducks to life in a three dimensional way.


Composition: The arrangement of this picture revolves around Mrs. Mallard and the eggs. The proportion can be seen by the size of the eggs in relation to everything else in the picture.


Point of View: This could be seen throughout the eyes of Mr. Mallard while he is watching his wife and his ducklings.


Distance: Mrs. Mallard tending to her eggs is the focus point of this picture. The background is drawn much smaller, which means it is at a farther distance than what is going on in the picture.

Picture Five

Line: The buildings in the background portray horizontal and vertical lines. The ducks are walking vertically across the page and the street. The cars are drawn with very thick lines to show how big they are. They ducks are drawn thinner, but still are a main focus of the picture.


Color: The colors in this book are very minimal. McCloskey was running late on time and money. He illustrated the book with charcoal, then lithographed the pictures on zinc plates. This makes the book seem very natural to the readers. This helps with the nature of the ducks and the garden.


Shape: The shapes in this picture are closed for example the buildings in the background.


Texture: The pictures in this book are very realistic. To do this there needs to be layers of brush strokes which can be seen with the charcoal. The textual effects of the ducks and the feathers make it look more realistic. The textures in this book are mainly soft to remain the tone of loving and caring. The texture of this book also brings the nature and the ducks to life in a three dimensional way.


Composition: The arrangement of this picture revolves around the ducks crossing the street. The proportion is very realistic because of the size of the ducks compared to the officer and the cars.


Point of View: This picture could be seen throughout the eyes of pedestrians on the sidewalk while watching the Mallard family cross the street.


Distance: The cars are drawn very big in relation to the ducks to show how they are the antagonists in this book because they are trying to prevent the ducks from reaching the garden.

Artistic Style

The style of this book is realistic. The definition of realism is the attempt to represent subject matter truthfully, without artificially and avoiding artistic conventions, implausible, exotic, and supernatural elements. This can be seen throughout the book because of the way the ducks are portrayed. The ducks are drawn very realistically along with the city of Boston and the nature included in the Charles River and Public Garden. There is only one color in this book and that is brown and it shows the natural value of the book. It contributes to the overall meaning of the picture book because of the value of nature which is seen throughout the entire book.
Make Way for Ducklings!

Make Way For Duckling Statue

In the story the Mallard family decides that the perfect home for their growing family is the Boston Public Garden. This is a picture of the real statue that is located in the Boston Public Garden. The gold statue shows Mrs. Mallard and her little ducklings entering their new home.

Artistic Media

The artistic media is very limited in this book. The techniques are using charcoal pencils. This is the only artistic media in the entire book because charcoal pencils are the only elements used in the book. The use of this media contributes to the overall meaning of the picture book because even though the book is very simple in the media conveys the natural elements of this book perfectly.

Elements of Illustration

Framing: There are no borders or framing in the book. The pictures have of a sketch look to them so there are no borders.


Arrangement: The arrangement of the pictures throughout the book are very well done. Each page is unique because of the very detailed drawing.


Narrative Sequence: The narrative or the text is written in the blank spaces provided on each illustration.


Page Turns: The page turns are unique. The text is in a different spot in each illustration and the pictures coincide with each other.


How do they contribute to the overall meaning of the picture book?

This contributes to the overall meaning because of the way the book is laid out it makes the reader want to continue to read. The way the arrangement is done, how the pages turn make the reader feel as if they are on the journey with the Mallard family.

Interplay of Text and Illustration

How do the text and illustrations work together in concert to create meaning?

The text and the illustrations work together very nicely in this book. The size of the text makes no overshadow the pictures and vice versa. The text uses easy words that young readers will understand, but the pictures give the book a deeper meaning throughout the illustrations. The pictures are not boarded by anything but the text appears on every page in the white spaces on the pictures. The pages vary in terms of how much text is presented. Some pages have more or less than others. Although there is only one use of artistic media throughout the entire book the illustrations are very detailed.

MAKE WAY FOR DUCKLINGS Children's Audio Book Read Aloud, written by Robert McCloskey

This 1942 Caldecott Award winning book continues to delight children for generations to come because of the timeless tale of a parent's love for their children.

Works Cited

Make Way for Ducklings Cover: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Make_Way_for_Ducklings


Read Aloud Video: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Make_Way_for_Ducklings


Mrs. Mallard walking with her ducklings: https://craftulate.com/2015/04/make-way-for-ducklings-busy-bag.html


Statue Picture: http://www.boston-discovery-guide.com/make-way-for-ducklings.html


Information: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Make_Way_for_Ducklings


Information: http://www2.nkfust.edu.tw/~emchen/CLit/picturebook_design.htm#layout


Cover Page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Make_Way_for_Ducklings#Cultural_effects


Paper: https://letcteachers.wordpress.com/2011/03/12/using-picture-books-with-adult-esl-learners/


Font Sizes: http://childrensbookalmanac.com/2011/08/make-way-for-ducklings/


Review #1: https://www.bostonglobe.com/arts/books/2013/11/17/make-way-for-ducklings-still-valued-childhood-favorite/a8XLyUoRgiBvUxTyZNSfYI/story.html


Visual Elements:

1: My Personal Picture

2: http://www.sarahmelling.com/2011_03_01_archive.html

3: http://reaberg.com/2010/06/30/make-way-for-ducklings/

4: https://www.pinterest.com/bekah_krueger/make-way-for-ducklings/

5: http://forums.talkingpointsmemo.com/t/discussion-cop-union-president-says-12-year-old-was-threat-to-killer-cop-absolutely/14496


Interactive Map: https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?mid=zxvMviHtvLvM.krZyv2gE1fNU&hl=en


Review #2: http://www.nytimes.com/2003/07/01/arts/robert-mccloskey-88-of-make-way-for-ducklings-is-dead.html


Review #3: https://www.bostonglobe.com/magazine/2014/09/13/make-way-for-ducklings-counting-ways-still-love-book/wSt4tfVnSspZs5DrAqJeDJ/igraphic.html?p1=Article_Graphic


Definition of Realism: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/realism