Apr 122013

Mrs. Mallard was sure that the pond in the Boston Public Gardens would be a perfect place for her and her eight ducklings to live. The problem was how to get them there through the busy streets of Boston. But with a little help from the Boston police, Mrs. Mallard and Jack, Kack, Lack, Nack, Ouack, Pack, and Quack arive safely at their new home.
This brilliantly illustrated, amusingly observed tale of Mallards on the move has won the hearts of generations of readers. Awarded the
Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished American picture book for children in 1941, it has since become a favorite of millions.

If you aren’t familiar with this classic of children’s literature, it is time to get a copy from Amazon.com or your nearest library and check it out with your little reader or pre-reader. The text features longer sentences to challenge emerging readers. The illustrations nearly steal the show from the story itself, however. These simple, monochrome pencil drawings are filled with details that will spark discussion and hold your child’s attention. From duck feathers to Boston architecture, the drawings leave just enough to the imagination. They evoke energy and meaning- for instance, when Mrs. Mallard swims with her ducklings, the way the ripples are drawn lets you know that they are moving, and you can see that they are happy to be enjoying a fine day together. The artist has done this without making the ducks cartoonish or unrealistic in the least- and you can spot individual differences in the ducklings. It’s a very charming artistic style. I find it as appealing as the kids do.

The story has just enough conflict to be exciting. The parent ducks first are searching for the perfect place to have their ducklings, and later there is the challenge of how to get the ducklings safely from one place to another in Boston. The tension in the story doesn’t escalate to anything that would frighten an anxious child, and soon it’s back to proud mama ducks and fun rhyming words.

If your kid loves cars (mine are both crazy for anything with a wheel on) then they will enjoy this book for the variety of classic automobiles. You could have a very good time extending this book by looking up the car makes and models in a reference book, or, better yet, asking a car enthusiast who can tell your kiddo about the cars in the pictures. (The book was published in 1941, so there are some really amazing cars in the drawings.) To extend this book for a science or nature lover, obviously there are plenty of materials available on duck life cycles, and two predators (foxes and turtles) are also mentioned. That leaves plenty of ground for research and discussion. Want some guidance on extending the book? Check out this Make Way for Ducklings tool kit.

  4 Responses to “Make Way For Ducklings”

  1. This is a wonderful book and very appropriate for this time of year. Spring, ducklings, they are all over the parks. Thanks!

  2. This is one of my favorite books for story times. Even though it is an older book, the kids love it!

  3. This is STILL one of my favorite books, and as I grew up in Boston, always brings back great memories!

  4. […] you enjoyed our review of Make Way for Ducklings, you will no doubt enjoy this live stream, courtesy of the Coralville Public Library. Mrs. Mallard […]

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