The 1941 book tells of a mallard family that comes to live in a pond in the Public Garden, a park in the center of the city, and how a friendly policeman stops traffic when the mother takes her eights ducklings across the street.
In 1987, sculptor Nancy Schon created a bronze version of Mrs. Mallard and the ducklings in the Public Garden. Children by the thousands climb on them every year. The park is also the site of an annual "Make Way for Ducklings" parade on Mother's Day, featuring hundreds of children dressed in the costumes of their favorite characters.
Born in Ohio, McCloskey came to Boston after winning a scholarship to the Vesper George Art School in Boston in 1932. He often told reporters that when returned to Boston several years later, he spotted a family of ducks amid traffic near Charles Street, an image that he tucked away in his mind.
During World War II, he married Peggy Durand, daughter of children's author Ruth Sawyer Durand. They had two daughters and settled in New York City, spending summers on Scott Island, Maine, the setting for another well-known book, Blueberries for Sal.
He is also the author and illustrator of the popular "Homer Price" stories, featuring a boy in a small Midwestern city whose curiosity and ingenuity leads him to foil bank robbers, find the world's largest weed, and repair a doughnut machine so well that it can't be shut off.