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Inside A Fuse #8 Production

Fuse 8 n’ Kate: Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey

MakeWayDucklingsAs surely as you must be saying, “Didn’t Kate and Betsy just do a Robert McCloskey book?” so too I answer you, “Yep,” and “Indubidably,” and “Is that how you spell that word?” and “No, actually it’s ‘Indubitably’ which just looks wrong but it’s true.” All this you must be saying, but the only point I can answer directly is whether or not we just did a Robert McCloskey book. We did, but it is not his most famous work. So it was that I sprang the tale of Mr. and Mrs. Mallard on my poor unsuspecting sister. She never knew what hit her. That said, we somehow manage to say a LOT about it! Vicious egg-eating turtles and all.

Listen to the whole show here on Soundcloud or download it through iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, or your preferred method of podcast selection.

Show Notes:

– Just in case you’re curious, the Twitter handle for us is @fuse_kate and on Instagram at fuse8kate.

– As a reminder, Minders of Make-Believe by Leonard Marcus is always my go-to source on these books:


– I always assumed that this was just one duckling, hatching. But now that I look at it, I think she’s right. That’s seven different ducks.


– This guy. My go-to Boston accent resides in his vocal chords.


– Here are the ducklings in statue form in Boston:


And here they are in the cold:


And here they are supporting the local sports team:


And attending the Women’s March:

DucklingsPussyhats copy

You can visit sculptor Nancy Schon’s website on the ducklings here.

– A bit of a correction here. I got my story COMPLETELY mixed up. The true tale (as I got it from the ALSC blog post Where’s Dick?) is that McCloskey saw Nixon somewhere (this being 1941 I’ve no idea where), noted his profile, and decided to use it for the book. So my theory that it’s one of the kids was way WAY off. Here’s the man people claim is Nixon:


– That doesn’t stop this little bugger from being a jerk, though.


– See, Kate thinks that this guy is a Boy Scout. I’m going to have to ask the ether for information on the matter. No cap, might be the best objection to the theory, don’t you think?


– Best duck interjection of all time. How precisely do you pronounce this when you’re reading it to a child?


– Queep


– Book’s Quak


– My Kwak


– Here are the two picture books I was talking about. The first is the story about the ducks down the drain called Lucky Ducklings by Eva Moore and Nancy Carpenter:


– The other is by Patricia Polacco about ducks that take the elevator to a fountain every day called John Philip Duck.


– It came in at #6 on the Top 100 Picture Books Poll.

– Please do tell me what you consider to be the most unknown Caldecott Award (not Honor) winner of all time. Write in!

– Did you wonder what Kate looked like as Merida? Eh, voila!!


– The book I was discussing was The Only Woman in the Room by Marie Benedict (about Hedy Lamarr). Here’s how they sent me the galley, though:




– And I’m not one to usually talk up holiday gifts, but if you have that relative that’s hard to buy for but that loves literature in some way, Bibliophile by Jane Mount is honestly the best book to get them on the subject. It’s incredibly gorgeous.


– And as a reminder, if you’ve nothing going on this coming Thursday at 3:00, tune in to Author’s Voice where I’ll be interviewing, Sean Rubin, the creator of Bolivar. You can watch live (and write in questions) here. It’s a great way to get a signed copy (and not a bad idea if you need a graphic novel for a younger reader that would make yet another gorgeous holiday present):


About Elizabeth Bird

Elizabeth Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.


  1. a few things:
    Firstly- my take on the boy on a speeding bicycle is that he’s in school uniform – Boston is full of parochial schools right? The tie would totally make sense then!

    A anecdote on the graphite art – for quiet/nap time my mom would give me a dry paintbrush and I would “sketch” the illustrations with the pointy end for ages – did it make me a better artist to pretend to copy McCLoskey’s art? not in the slightest – but was I occupied? YES. genius move, Mom.

    Finally – I went to Boston/Concord last august on literary pilgrimage (Boston Public Garden being one of my stops for Make Way for Ducklings AND Trumpet of the Swan) and got to see the ducklings in all their glory, and nearly died of happiness at the sight of a mom and daughter reading Make Way on a park bench. #momgoals.

    • Elizabeth Bird says

      That makes much more sense to me. A school uniform! Of course! And so glad you were able to see the ducklings firsthand. They really are the best.

  2. ALSO – as a west Tennessean, I’d be remiss in my librarianly duties if I didn’t share this about the Peabody Ducks (as featured in John Phillip Duck) – They still march daily!

  3. Yes, as a a fellow (and former) west Tennessean who grew up in Memphis and often saw the ducks march, I must bring up my one complaint about John Phillip Duck. The opening of the book takes place around Memphis and the artwork shows the place surrounded by mountains. Every Mephian knows that west Tennessee is as flat as a tabletop and the only high ground is the bluffs on the Mississippi River!

  4. Took my first trip to Boston last year in June. Make Way for Ducklings was on my must-see list, along with the tortoise and the hare and Boston Public Library. Yes, I am a librarian who goes on vacation and visits other libraries.


    Lovely episode! Just one question: in Grown Up Things We Like, you briefly mention a podcast you and Kate both enjoy, but it’s name is mentioned so quickly that I couldn’t understand what it was. As someone who enjoys a good podcast (obviously) could you please tell me its name?

    • Elizabeth Bird says

      Heh heh. I suspect she did that on purpose. It is called (and forgive me) My Dad Wrote a Porno. It’s one of our favorites and is pretty much what it sounds like. Three friends read the truly terrible writing created by the father of one of them. It is the only podcast that has me laughing in public on a regular basis. Start at the beginning, though.