A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Fantasy meant to entertain. Introduces kids to rhyming poetry.
It's fun to use your imagination. But people and fish from the faraway Arctic are stereotyped here. People shouldn't throw trash into the pool.
Use of term "Eskimo," which is considered by many to be offensive, since it's a general term imposed on Indigenous peoples by outsiders rather than acknowledging the names of specific Native peoples in Alaska, Canada, Greenland, and Siberia.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that McElligot's Pool, which earned Dr. Seuss his first Caldecott Honor, is the story of a skeptical adult's failure to persudae an optimistic, daydreaming boy to abandon his fishing hole. First published in 1947, it's been criticized for its sterotypical portrayals of people and fish from faraway places. There's an image of "Eskimo fish" in stereotypical costumes.
Is It Any Good?
This is among the most beautiful of Dr. Seuss' books. In lovingly painted watercolors, he renders underwater scenes in swirling blues, grays, and greens, and in one two-page picture, a lovely little city of pastel buildings and telephone poles nestles among rolling green hills beside a blue-gray ocean. Beneath the city, the sea flows in a subterranean channel straight to McElligot's pool (for literate fish, there's a handy sign pointing the way).
Despite its beauty, McElligot's Pool has some probelmatic language and imagery: It uses the term "Eskimo" and depicts "Eskimo fish" in a sterotypical manner. It's also a little flat compared with other Dr. Seuss books. Apart from the farmer's good-natured jeers, the story features little conflict. Another reason for the comparative lack of vitality might be that Dr. Seuss' invented creatures still resemble real ones. And in this book, Dr. Seuss' wordplay had not yet reached the exuberant pitch it later achieved.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.