McElligot's Pool

Book review by
Robyn Raymer, Common Sense Media
McElligot's Pool Book Poster Image
Very beautiful, but a little flat for Dr. Seuss.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Positive Messages

People and fish from faraway places are stereotyped. People have thrown trash into McElligot's Pool.

Violence & Scariness

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that a skeptical adult fails to convince an optimistic, daydreaming boy to abandon his fishing hole.

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What's the story?

Imaginative Marco fishes patiently in McElligot's Pool, a cow pond with a lot of potential. The boy believes an underground brook connects McElligot's Pool with the sea. Via this route, he explains to a skeptical farmer, countless fantastic, finny creatures are sure to find their way to Marco's hook. Lovely watercolor illustrations earned Dr. Seuss his first Caldecott Honor Award.


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 is a little flat compared with other Dr. Seuss books. Apart from the farmer's good-natured jeers, the story contains 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.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about optimism. Do you think the boy ever catches anything in the pond? Do you think imagining all the creatures below is as much fun as catching an ordinary fish?

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