Friday, July 04, 2003


Harry Potter and other vibrant exceptions aside, there is something vaguely depressing about much current children's literature. One remedy for parents who wish to protect their kids from the bland and the preachy is to pull out a passed-down edition of "Make Way for Ducklings" (1941), "Blueberries for Sal" (1948) or "One Morning in Maine" (1952), all by the author and illustrator Robert McCloskey, who died Monday, age 88.

In the pages of these classic works, in the expressive, monochrome drawings, there is no Big Sociological Message, forced sunniness or sentimentality, but rather the gentle but sharply observed depiction of children's--or ducklings'--dilemmas, regional landscapes and midcentury American cities.

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