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Inspiring Picture Book Biography of Public Art Sculptor, Nancy Schön

Be Strong

“Davis’ illustrations are reminiscent of the statues themselves: bold, with rounded edges and a fullness of life that he captures with rich colors and an absence of outlines. “ Kirkus Review

“…picture-book readers…will enjoy this introduction to the sculptor best known for her bronze renditions of the mallards in Make Way For Ducklings (that likewise waddle through Boston’s Public Garden). Booklist

“…festive illustrations…” Booklist

When American sculptor Nancy Schön visited Israel in 1979, a visit to a sculpture garden changed her life. She saw a bronze woman cuddling a cat and was amazed with how children interacted with the sculpture.

Later, Nancy wrote, “Right then, I saw what I wanted for my art. I wanted my sculptures to be outdoors in parks, where people of all ages could touch and enjoy them.” 

Her passion for public art sculptures meant finding new ways to work. She began this new phase of her career by creating a bronze sculpture of a duck family from Robert McCloskey’s picture book, Make Way for Ducklings. The process was hard: she needed a larger studio and working large meant structural problems for the ducks. The process was so hard that she became discouraged.

On her lowest day, a friend brought her a slip of paper with these words: Be Strong.

The encouragement helped her find the strength and determination to finish the duck family, which launched her career in public art. Over the decades since, Nancy’s strength of character carried her through twenty other sculpture projects across the world. Through it all, she found a quiet solidness in that small sign hanging on her studio walls: Be Strong.

Beyond the McCloskey Ducks

Backmatter includes historical photos and a biography of Nancy Schön. The McCloskey ducklings launched her career, but it’s time to bring her whole career into the spotlight. This picture book biography brings Nancy’s story—and encouragement—to children. It distills a lifetime of creative art into two inspiring words: Be Strong.

Watch a video series interviewing Nancy Schön!


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