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‘Make Way for Ducklings’

‘Make Way for Ducklings’
‘Make Way for Ducklings’
A woman jogs past a bronze sculpture of ducks in Moscow, Russia. Photo by Dr. Wayne Willis
Dr. Wayne Willis
Dr. Wayne Willis

Question: What do Boston, Mass., and Moscow, Russia, have in common?

Answer: Identical “Make Way for Ducklings” bronze sculptures.

Why?

It all began in 1941, when Robert McCloskey published a children’s picture book with that name. It tells the adventures of Mrs. and Mr. Mallard as they raise their eight ducklings on a lagoon island in Boston Public Garden. One of my favorite pages features a policeman stopping traffic to allow the Mallard family to waddle single file across the street. The beautifully illustrated book sold about three million copies.

In 1987, a bronze sculpture of Mrs. Mallard and her eight ducklings, created by Nancy Schon, was installed on old Boston cobblestones near the corner of Beacon and Charles streets. Visitors from around the world have made Schon’s artistry one of the top 10 tourist attractions in Boston. Children, and sometimes adults, sit on the duck or her ducklings.

In 1991, a similar statue was installed in Novodevichy Park in Moscow. It was presented by then-United States First Lady Barbara Bush to Russian First Lady Raisa Gorbachev as a gift to the children of the Soviet Union. Mrs. Gorbachev, in a visit to the United States, had shown great affection for the Boston sculpture.

What do Boston and Moscow have in common? More than one might think. Both Bostonians and Muscovites want most to see their little ones grow up. Both hate living in fear of humans harming or terrorizing or annihilating them. Both seek a little island in the murky lagoon of life to call home. Both want enough grain and fish to keep from starving. Both love parks and lakes and nature trails.

What sound is this I write about?

16 ducklings quacking out

Rodney King’s plaintive song,

“Why can’t we all just get along?”

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