The front cover of McElligot's Pool
|1947 (renewed 1974)|
|Preceded by||Horton Hatches the Egg|
|Followed by||Thidwick the Big-Hearted Moose|
McElligot's Pool is a children's book written and illustrated by Theodor Geisel under the pen name Dr. Seuss and published by Random House in 1947. In the story, a boy named Marco, who first appeared in Geisel's 1937 book And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, imagines a wide variety of strange fish that could be swimming in the pond in which he is fishing.
The story begins as a boy named Marco fishes in a small, trash-filled pond, McElligot's Pool. A local farmer laughs at the boy and tells him that he is never going to catch anything. Nevertheless, Marco holds out hope and begins to imagine a scenario in which he might be able to catch a fish. First, he suggests that the pool might be fed by an underground brook that travels under a highway and a hotel to reach the sea. Marco then imagines a succession of fish and other creatures that could be in the sea and therefore the pool. He imagines, among others, a fish with a checkerboard stomach, a seahorse with the head of an actual horse, and an eel with two heads. When Marco is done imagining, he tells the farmer, "Oh, the sea is a so full of a number of fish,/ If a fellow is patient, he might get his wish!"
Geisel painted some of the water colors that illustrate McElligot's Pool while vacationing with his wife, Helen, at the summer home of their friend Kelvin Vanderlip, in southern California. The book was the first Dr. Seuss book to use water colors for its illustrations; however, because of budget concerns, Random House published half of the book in black and white, alternating between two pages in color and two pages in black and white. Marco, the book's main character, first appeared in And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, which was the first Dr. Seuss book and was first published in 1937 by Vanguard Press.
Geisel dedicated the book to his father, whom the dedication refers to as "the World's Greatest Authority on Blackfish, Fiddler Crabs, and Deegel Trout." According to Dr. Seuss biographers Judith and Neil Morgan, "deegel trout" was a private joke between Geisel and his father that was started during a fishing trip when Geisel was a boy. His father had bought large trout from Deegel hatchery and pretended that they had caught them.
McElligot's Pool, Geisel's first book in seven years, was published by Random House in 1947 and was well received. It became a Junior Literary Guild selection and garnered Geisel his first Caldecott Honor.
The review in the Saturday Review of Literature stated, "Children will have nothing but admiration for this boy who heard there were no fish in McElligot's Pool and then saw them swimming in from the sea." M.B. King of the Chicago Sun emphasized the book's humor, writing, "This time prepare to chuckle under water for you'll be meeting the weirdest, wildest, funniest creatures of the sea which imagination can conjur." S.J. Johnson of Library Journal called the book "as diviniely idiotic" as And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street.
- Morgan & Morgan 1995, pp. 120–122
- Fensch 2001, pp. 90–93
- Fensch, Thomas (2001). The Man Who Was Dr. Seuss. Woodlands: New Century Books. ISBN 0-930751-11-6.
- MacDonald, Ruth (1988). Dr. Seuss. Twayne Publishers. ISBN 0-8057-7524-2.
- Morgan, Neil; Morgan, Judith Giles (1996). Dr. Seuss Mr. Geisel: a biography. New York: Da Capo Press. ISBN 978-0-306-80736-7.
- Nel, Philip (2004). Dr. Seuss: American Icon. Continuum Publishing. ISBN 0-8264-1434-6.
- Pease, Donald E. (2010). Theodor Seuss Geisel. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-532302-3.