Kirkus Reviews QR Code
MAKE WAY by Angela Burke Kunkel Kirkus Star


The Story of Robert McCloskey, Nancy Schön, and Some Very Famous Ducklings

by Angela Burke Kunkel ; illustrated by Claire Keane

Pub Date: April 11th, 2023
ISBN: 978-0-593-37335-4
Publisher: Random House Studio

When Bob and Nancy begin to explore their artistic talents, they are children, born, respectively, in 1914 and 1928.

They will grow up to become Robert McCloskey, two-time Caldecott winner, including one for Make Way for Ducklings (1941), and Nancy Schön, sculptor of the famous ducklings, inspired by the picture book, in the Boston Public Garden, installed in 1987. The trajectories of these two and their eventual friendship (after many years of struggle to be recognized as an artist, Nancy would also create works based on other McCloskey characters) are chronicled in a lively and loving manner that will excite children and adults alike. The digital illustrations, like crayon sketches that evoke an earlier era, push the story forward in a rush of humorous elements that emphasize the unusual devotion of these two people to their art. While creating the book, Bob buys live ducks to study in his New York City apartment. Years later, Nancy purchases “a duck’s foot from the butcher to study the way its joints move.” Nancy worries about whether Bob will allow her to use his work as the basis for her sculpture, but when a friend brings them together, the established book creator warms to the idea and becomes genuinely excited when he sees children react to Nancy’s models. Most characters present White, though a few children of color appear. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A wonderful picture book about creativity and collaboration.

(author’s note with photos, timeline, selected bibliography) (Informational picture book. 7-11)