Robert McCloskey's children's classic about ducklings in the Boston Public Garden is evidently not all fiction.
That much was proved by a mother duck who, 41 years after ''Make Way for Ducklings'' was published, arrived with two drakes at the 670-foot-long reflecting pool at the Christian Science Center this spring.
Shortly before Memorial Day weekend, according to security staffers at the center, she made her way to some nearby bushes under a linden tree. In a few days she came back--trailing 11 ducklings.
She was apparently not worried that the shallow pool, granite-lined and devoid of vegetation, had no natural food. Passers-by brought plenty of bread and corn flakes. The center's carpentry shop even built her a floating feeding station.
The staff, however, was concerned by the pool's low granite combing: Once the ducklings got over it, security hosts had to pluck them out of the drainage channel and put them back where they belonged. Center engineers raised the water level in the drain. But the duckling-watch became increasingly time-consuming as the ducklings got more venturesome.
Finally, just as the staff was considering how to move the family, the mother took charge. On the evening of June 3, she ordered her brood out of the pool. Then, while security host Nathaniel Moon stopped traffic, she marched them across busy Massachusetts Avenue and over to a marshy pond a quarter-mile away in the Fens, where the drakes were waiting.