Robert M. McClung
From the dust jacket of Buzztail: The Story of a Rattlesnake

Robert M. McClung

1916 - 2006

Robert McClung was born in Butler, Pennsylvania, in 1916. Even as a young child, he delighted in sharing his love of the natural world through story and picture. His early passion for the butterflies and moths he watched and studied on his grandfather's farm inspired his first book, Wings in the Woods (1948). His younger years spent cultivating the skill of attentive observation of creatures in their natural environment helped hone his ability to describe in great detail not just the physical characteristics of the subjects of his books, but just as importantly, their behaviors and their interactions with other creatures, their habitats, and humans too.

McClung, in explaining the vision and purpose for his books, remarked "practically all my books deal with wild animals and the natural environment. Unfortunately, more and more of the vital habitat that wildlife needs for survival is being polluted or destroyed by the activities of Homo Sapiens. Through the years I have increasingly stressed in my writing the importance of a healthy environment and the conservation and wise use of all earth's resources. My aim in all of my books is to heighten the reader’s awareness and appreciation of nature and to develop his or her interest in and sympathy for all living things. The sooner the child develops an appreciation of the world he lives in and realizes that it could be destroyed, the better prepared he will be to make sane and wise choices when he becomes an adult."

Between his two periods as an author, first as a child for his own amusement and later writing as an adult for the enjoyment of other children, came graduation from Princeton, a brief stint writing for an advertising agency, service during WWII as naval aviator, an MS degree in zoology from Cornell, and a job with the Bronx Zoo as curator of mammals and birds. From the zoo, he went on to become an editor for National Geographic. After working there for several years, he moved from New York city with his wife, Gale, whom he had married in 1948, and their two sons to Amherst, Massachusetts. He then struck out on his own as a freelance writer, uniting his passions and talents as author, illustrator, and zoologist.

McClung's books are prime examples of one of the singularities of living books, the phenomenon, as one author has put it, of "fictionalized non-fiction." McClung uses an engaging narrative to introduce his animals to the reader, giving the animal a name and filling in the edges of the story with imagined details, all the while maintaining scientific veracity.

Accurate and interesting accounts of the life cycles of specific creatures, attractively and precisely illustrated, are invaluable for any study of nature. When they are simple enough to be read for pleasure by young children, they are treasures. Robert McClung has given us a series of such books.New York Herald Tribune

— Written by Johanna Bittle

Robert McClung's Vanishing Wildlife Series published by William Morrow & Company
CoverTitleAuthorPublication date
America's Endangered Birds: Programs and People Working to Save Them America's Endangered Birds: Programs and People Working to Save Them McClung, Robert M. 1979
Hunted Mammals of the Sea Hunted Mammals of the Sea McClung, Robert M. 1978
Lost Wild America: The Story of Our Extinct and Vanishing Wildlife Lost Wild America: The Story of Our Extinct and Vanishing Wildlife McClung, Robert M. 1969
Lost Wild Worlds: The Story of Extinct and Vanishing Wildlife of the Eastern Hemisphere Lost Wild Worlds: The Story of Extinct and Vanishing Wildlife of the Eastern Hemisphere McClung, Robert M. 1976
Vanishing Wildlife of Latin America Vanishing Wildlife of Latin America McClung, Robert M. 1981
Books for Young Explorers (National Geographic Society) published by National Geographic
CoverTitleAuthorPublication date
Animals that Build their Homes Animals that Build their Homes McClung, Robert M. 1976
How Animals Hide How Animals Hide McClung, Robert M. 1973
Treasures in the Sea Treasures in the Sea McClung, Robert M. 1972
Random House Gateway Books published by Random House
CoverTitleAuthorPublication date
Mammals and How They Live Mammals and How They Live McClung, Robert M. 1973
The Mighty Bears The Mighty Bears McClung, Robert M. 1967
The Swift Deer The Swift Deer McClung, Robert M. 1966
Robert McClung's "How They Live" Insects Series published by William Morrow & Company
CoverTitleAuthorPublication date
Aquatic Insects and How They Live Aquatic Insects and How They Live McClung, Robert M. 1970
Bees, Wasps, and Hornets and How They Live Bees, Wasps, and Hornets and How They Live McClung, Robert M. 1971
Caterpillars and How They Live Caterpillars and How They Live McClung, Robert M. 1965
Moths and Butterflies and How They Live Moths and Butterflies and How They Live McClung, Robert M. 1966
Robert McClung's "Last Of" Vanishing Animals Series published by William Morrow & Company
CoverTitleAuthorPublication date
Black Jack: Last of the Big Alligators Black Jack: Last of the Big Alligators McClung, Robert M. 1967
Rajpur: Last of the Bengal Tigers Rajpur: Last of the Bengal Tigers McClung, Robert M. 1982
Samson: Last of the California Grizzlies Samson: Last of the California Grizzlies McClung, Robert M. 1973
Scoop: Last of the Brown Pelicans Scoop: Last of the Brown Pelicans McClung, Robert M. 1972
Screamer: Last of the Eastern Panthers Screamer: Last of the Eastern Panthers McClung, Robert M. 1964
Shag: Last of the Plains Buffalo Shag: Last of the Plains Buffalo McClung, Robert M. 1960
Thor: Last of the Sperm Whales Thor: Last of the Sperm Whales McClung, Robert M. 1971
Robert McClung's "Story of" Animal Life Cycle Series published by William Morrow & Company
CoverTitleAuthorPublication date
Blaze: The Story of a Striped Skunk Blaze: The Story of a Striped Skunk McClung, Robert M. 1969
Bufo: The Story of a Toad Bufo: The Story of a Toad McClung, Robert M. 1954
Buzztail: The Story of a Rattlesnake Buzztail: The Story of a Rattlesnake McClung, Robert M. 1958
Green Darner: The Story of a Dragonfly Green Darner: The Story of a Dragonfly McClung, Robert M. 1956
Honker: The Story of a Wild Goose Honker: The Story of a Wild Goose McClung, Robert M. 1965
Leaper: The Story of an Atlantic Salmon Leaper: The Story of an Atlantic Salmon McClung, Robert M. 1957
Luna: The Story of a Moth Luna: The Story of a Moth McClung, Robert M. 1957
Major: The Story of a Black Bear Major: The Story of a Black Bear McClung, Robert M. 1956
Otus: The Story of a Screech Owl Otus: The Story of a Screech Owl McClung, Robert M. 1959
Redbird: The Story of a Cardinal Redbird: The Story of a Cardinal McClung, Robert M. 1968
Ruby Throat: The Story of a Hummingbird Ruby Throat: The Story of a Hummingbird McClung, Robert M. 1950
Sphinx: The Story of a Caterpillar Sphinx: The Story of a Caterpillar McClung, Robert M. 1949
Spike: The Story of a Whitetail Deer Spike: The Story of a Whitetail Deer McClung, Robert M. 1952
Stripe: The Story of a Chipmunk Stripe: The Story of a Chipmunk McClung, Robert M. 1951
Tiger: The Story of a Swallowtail Butterfly Tiger: The Story of a Swallowtail Butterfly McClung, Robert M. 1953
Vulcan: The Story of a Bald Eagle Vulcan: The Story of a Bald Eagle McClung, Robert M. 1955
Whitefoot: The Story of a Wood Mouse Whitefoot: The Story of a Wood Mouse McClung, Robert M. 1961
All About Books published by Random House
CoverTitleAuthorPublication date
All About Animals and Their Young All About Animals and Their Young McClung, Robert M. 1958
Authored
CoverTitleAuthorPublication date
The Amazing Egg The Amazing Egg McClung, Robert M. 1980
America's First Elephant America's First Elephant McClung, Robert M. 1991
Gorilla Gorilla McClung, Robert M. 1984
Gypsy Moth: Its History in America Gypsy Moth: Its History in America McClung, Robert M. 1974
Horseshoe Crab Horseshoe Crab McClung, Robert M. 1967
Hugh Glass, Mountain Man Hugh Glass, Mountain Man McClung, Robert M. 1990
Ladybug Ladybug McClung, Robert M. 1966
Lili: A Giant Panda of Sichuan Lili: A Giant Panda of Sichuan McClung, Robert M. 1988
Little Burma Little Burma McClung, Robert M. 1958
Mice, Moose, and Men: How Their Populations Rise and Fall Mice, Moose, and Men: How Their Populations Rise and Fall McClung, Robert M. 1973
Mysteries of Migration Mysteries of Migration McClung, Robert M. 1983
Old Bet and the Start of the American Circus Old Bet and the Start of the American Circus McClung, Robert M. 1993
Peeper, First Voice of Spring Peeper, First Voice of Spring McClung, Robert M. 1977
Possum Possum McClung, Robert M. 1963
Sea Star Sea Star McClung, Robert M. 1975
Snakes: Their Place in the Sun Snakes: Their Place in the Sun McClung, Robert M. 1979
Spotted Salamander Spotted Salamander McClung, Robert M. 1964
The True Adventures of Grizzly Adams The True Adventures of Grizzly Adams McClung, Robert M. 1985
Whitetail Whitetail McClung, Robert M. 1987
Whooping Crane Whooping Crane McClung, Robert M. 1959
Wings in the Woods Wings in the Woods McClung, Robert M. 1948
Young George Washington and the French and Indian War: 1753-1758 Young George Washington and the French and Indian War: 1753-1758 McClung, Robert M. 2002
Editor
CoverTitleAuthorPublication date
At War and At Home: One Family's World War II Correspondence At War and At Home: One Family's World War II Correspondence McClung, Gale S., McClung, Robert M. 2007