McCloskey ducks
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Robert McCloskey, Caldecott Winner of Ohio

The Randolph Caldecott Medal is a prestigious award given to creators of children’s books, and the two awarded to Robert McCloskey (1914-2003) in the 1940s and 1950s are on display at the Robert McCloskey Museum. It is part of The Heritage Hall Museum at 20 High Street in Hamilton, the town where McCloskey was born and grew up.

Hamilton, which was named after US Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton and is located in southwest Ohio near Cincinnati, has a population of approximately 62,000, which is about double the population that was there during McCloskey’s early years. Even then, Hamilton was a thriving and vibrant industrial town.

According to https://hamiltonheritagehall.org, the building that houses the McCloskey Museum “…is enhanced by its impressive array of stone bas reliefs. These works were modeled by the young Robert McCloskey. McCloskey was only 19 years old, but he caught the spirit of civic growth within his hometown. After the completion of the project, McCloskey remained close to Frederick Mueller and often advised Mueller on various projects long after he launched his own career.”

His Award-winning Classic Books

The two children’s books that won McCloskey the Caldecott Medals are Make Way for Ducklings and Time of Wonder. Other awards and items from his life are on display at the McCloskey Museum as well. (Read more about Robert McCloskey through our Massachusetts section.)

About the Writer

After leaving Ohio, human interaction with nature in Massachusetts and Maine inspired his writing, including his most popular books. Make Way for Ducklings is set in Massachusetts and Blueberries for Sal is set in Maine, where he eventually lived with his family.

“To properly study his subjects, McCloskey bought ‘four squawking mallards’ and took them home to his apartment. ‘I spent the next weeks on my hands and knees,’ he said, ‘armed with a box of Kleenex and a sketchbook, following the ducks around the studio and observing them in the bathtub.'” — orrt.org/mccloskey

Visit our X-ultations page to learn about the Caldecott and other literary honors.

This is the second stop on our Ohio Author Adventures Trail!

Patricia Smart