Mccloskey, (John) Robert 1914-2003
McCLOSKEY, (John) Robert 1914-2003
OBITUARY NOTICE—See index for CA sketch: Born September 15, 1914, in Hamilton, OH; died June 30, 2003, in Deer Isle, ME. Artist, illustrator, and author. McCloskey was a Caldecott Award-winning children's book author and illustrator best known for his 1941 picture book Make Way for Ducklings. As a child, he was initially interested in music and learned to play the piano, oboe, harmonica, and percussions; he was also a great tinkerer, and his parents thought he might become an inventor, if not a musician. However, he surprised them by turning to art after an engraving and printmaking class he took in high school sparked his interest. He won a scholarship to Vesper George Art School in Boston, completing courses there in 1936, and then moved on to the National Academy of Design, from which he graduated in 1938. Although he won the Prix de Rome in 1939, his early work as an artist afforded him little financial security until he started illustrating children's books. His first book, Lentil, was published in 1940, and Make Way for Ducklings was released the following year, earning him his first of two Caldecotts. Homer Price came out in 1943, but McCloskey's career was by then interrupted by the start of World War II; the artist enlisted in the U.S. Army, becoming a technical sergeant. When the war ended, he continued his art studies in Italy, as well as continuing his illustration work. McCloskey completed five more self-illustrated children's books, including Blueberries for Sal (1948), One Morning in Maine, and his second Caldecott winner, Time of Wonder (1957). He also illustrated books by other children's writers, including Claire Huchet Bishop, Tom Robinson, and Ruth Sawyer. Despite the attention he got for the books he wrote, McCloskey always considered himself an artist first and an author second. He stopped writing after Burt Dow, Deep-Water Man: A Tale of the Sea in the Classic Tradition (1963), and focused on his art work for the rest of his life. Nevertheless, McCloskey will likely always be remembered a classic children's author whose books will continue to be treasured by children, teachers, and parents for years to come.
OBITUARIES AND OTHER SOURCES:
St. James Guide to Children's Writers, fifth edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1999.
Los Angeles Times, July 6, 2003, p. B16.
New York Times, July 1, 2003, p. C17.
Washington Post, July 2, 2003, p. B7.