"McElligot's Pool" Analysis

by Jacinda Castro


In the book McElligot's Pool, by Dr. Seuss, a young boy named Marco is fishing for fish in a small pond when a man comes up to him and tells him that the pond is only filled with trash. However, Marco tells him that, although there may not be fish in the pond, there also just might be. Then, Marco continues to imagine and tell the man of all the amazing fish that he may be able to catch in the pond, and so that is the reason why he continues to fish in McElligot's Pool.

Literary Elements

The illustrations help show the imaginative and free spirited plot and style of the book. The drawings are filled with color and they show a number of creative and imaginative creatures. This helps to show the imaginative mind of Marco as he explains the wondrous fish that could live in the pond, and show his optimistic attitude in believing in the possible.

Physical Features

The front cover of the book shows the image of a fish being drawn to a fishing hook, which helps to show Marco's wish of being able to capture a fish from the pond. The front page of the book has a wooden stand in the ground pointing the way to McElligot's Pool, and this seems to be used to show that the story is now beginning. Once the story begins readers see that some of the text in the book is italicized and end in exclamation points, and these are used to express Marco's excitement in the kind of fish that he may be able to catch in the pool.

Visual Elements

The book's illustrations are painted with many vivid colors and with a free hand, demonstrating Marco's creative and imaginative mind, and the different shapes and sizes of the fish that he imagines also contribute to this as well. These creative illustrations are what draw young readers to the book. Also, with the book being from Marco's point of view and not Seuss', these readers can connect more with the character and story as well.

Artistic Style

The book is most definitely surrealistic with it's imaginative and creative story and illustrations. It brings the impossible to life, and plays on the imagination of the readers. This can also be seen as being expressionistic in the way it distorts reality and uses such vivid colors and variations of line work in the illustrations. These features help contribute to the imagination and wonder of the story.

Artistic Media

Unlike most of Seuss' book the illustrations in McElligot's Pool are painted using water colors, instead of pen and ink. He did so because, as stated in a description of the famous painting form the book "A Plethora of Fish", Seuss wanted to "exaggerate within a logical sequence in creating an underwater world that would be plausible to a child". Also, by doing so he shows how the book is free spirited and it emphasizes the imaginative style of the novel. As stated in a review by Steve Barancik about the rare sight of water color illustrations by Seuss, " Its a rare joy to see such an unrestrained Seuss, but appropriate to a book about a boy who imagines all the wonders of a coral reef beneath the surface of the muddy pond before him."

Elements of Illustration

The illustrations take up the whole page of the book, leaving no frame, and uses either one or two pages. This is to indulge the reader into the story even more, so that it is able to capture their full attention. With such creative fish on each turn of a page, and having a sentence begin on one page and end on another has the reader anticipating to turn the page and see what lies ahead, which has them enjoy the book even more.

Interplay of Text and Illustrations

Most of the text in the book apart of the picture, and not on a separated page. This is to show a connection between the illustration and the text, and is able to help the reader follow the story better.


"A Plethora of Fish". drseussart.com. 2016. The Art of Dr. Seuss. Web.10 Feb. 2016.

Barancik, Steve. "McElligot's Pool". bestchildren'sbooks.com. 2006. Web. 10 Feb. 2016


With such imaginative and fun illustrations a part of such a creative story readers minds are able to expand beyond the possible. They are able to connect to Marco and see the many possibilities that he believes in, and are able to understand his optimistic point of view of the world an share in his hope.
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