Sing your kids safe with this fun ditty from Boston-based Karen K and the Jitterbugs
Find the Ducklings in the Public Garden
Back Bay and Beacon Hill
The ducklings and Mrs. Mallard crossed Storrow drive and headed up Mt. Vernon Street in Beacon hill to get to the Public Garden. You and your little quackers will be walking over Storrow by way of the Arthur Fiedling bridge (named after the conductor of the Boston Pops). You can either continue to cross Beacon and head into the park, or you can take a detour left into Beacon Hill, which still retains the quaint neighborhood feel of McCloskey’s book.
Just walk behind the footbridge and turn right onto Beaver Place. The houses here used to be the carriage homes of the stately mansions. No horses live here today, of course. From Beaver Place, turn left onto Brimmer and right onto Chestnut Street and admire the old architecture and the quiet. In two blocks, you will find Charles Street, the busy main street of Beacon Hill that the ducks walked down. Turn right, take your turn window shopping, or grab lunch before making your way to the Public Garden entrance at Charles and Beacon. Do your kids recognize the gate? The ducklings are nearby.
Robert McCloskey got the idea for Make Way For Ducklings from a true story. Also true, that he didn’t know how to draw ducks, so he bought some and had them live in his bathtub so he could sketch them, but they moved too fast,much like children. One night he slowed them down. By giving them red wine.
Curious George is another Boston icon. The authors, H.A. Rey and Margaret Rey lived in Cambridge after fleeing the Nazi invasion of Paris in 1940. They had already written the first Curious George book, and it was one of the few things they brought with them as they rode their bikes to safety. Find a bench in the park and enjoy some snacks while you read the story of a curious monkey who follows some ducks to a pond just like this one. One of our favorite Curious George stories is the one where he goes to the hospital and overdoses on ether. There is a statue in the Public Garden here that is a monument to ether, which was first publicly demonstrated as a way to control pain in surgery by a dentist, William Thomas Green Morton in 1846 at Mass General Hospital.
What Happens When You Follow Ducklings?
Hopefully you were able to find the ducklings in the park. Do you remember all their names? The author of the story wrote Make Way for Ducklings from a true story of ducks that stopped traffic. He also wrote it to help children who had fathers who were away in Europe, fighting in World War II. In the story, the ducklings are reunited with their father in a safe place, and they live happily after.
McCloskey didn’t know how to draw ducks though. So he bought pet ducks, let them live in his bathroom and practiced drawing them for two years. He had 16 ducks! In a small New York apartment. You can see his practice sketches here. Can you see where he made mistakes?
So what happened when you followed the ducklings? Did you have any adventures? Curious George, who is a good little monkey, but always curious, followed ducklings one day, just like you did. Curious. Read the story of Curious George and the Dump Truck. Does anything in the story look familiar to you? This park you are in, which is called Boston Public Garden, was made just like the park in George’s book. Before it was a park, it was just a marshy, swampy land that smelled in the summer.
Itty Bitty Scavenger Hunt: Who Lives Here?
Having Fun? Let's Keep Going
You’re almost done with the tour! Next you’ll cross the street and head into the Boston Common. It is one of the oldest parks in Boston. There’s lots of fun things to do and see there, like ride the Merry-go-round, play at the Frog Pond Playground, or splash in the Frog Pond. Ready? Let’s go!