The New York Times describes Robert McCloskey's Caldecott Medal-winning book as "one of the merriest picture books ever." Young children will delight in the story of a mother duck's search for the perfect place to lay her eggs, as well as her loving protection of the brood once they are hatched. Mr. and Mrs. Mallard swim and fly around Boston looking for a safe place to nest, but they are always met with imperfect conditions, be it a lack of peanuts to eat, or heedless bicyclists who threaten to mow them down as they stroll innocently down the sidewalk. Finally, a spot near Boston's Public Garden offers them an adequate home; no foxes or turtles to vex them, lots of peanuts from kindly park-goers, and the benevolence of a local police officer. When the ducklings are born, they are named for each letter of the alphabet from J to Q: Jack, Kack, Lack, Mack, Nack, Ouack, Pack, and Quack, the reading of which is sure to please the ears of every child. Mid-story, Mr. Mallard ventures over to the Public Garden, and asks Mrs. Mallard to meet him there in a week. In a gently absurd scene, the police of Boston come to the aid of a proud Mrs. Mallard marching her brood through the streets to meet her husband. The family is reunited in the end, and finds a wonderful island in the Public Garden that becomes the best home of all. McCloskey's soft, brown-toned illustrations evocatively bring to life the Boston of the 1940s. This book gives readers a fine opportunity to explore life in a simpler time, as well as discover facts about the habits and habitats of Mallard ducks.
Like Robert McCloskey, children will discover that observing something up close can help them get the details just right in their own drawings. Though you may not be able to invite ducks into your classroom, bring in stuffed animals!