McElligot's Pool

mcelligot's pool book cover

Written by: Dr. Seuss


Illustrated by: Dr. Seuss


Age Range: 3 and up


Publisher: Random House, Inc.


ISBN: 9780394800837


Awards: Caldecott Honor


The story starts with a boy named Marco fishing at McElligot’s Pool. A farmer from a field nearby tells Marco his attempt to fish there is useless, as the only thing that can be found in McElligot’s pool is junk.

Marco then imagines what might lie below the surface in McElligot’s Pool. It might be connected to a brook that runs underneath the whole town. It just might connect to the sea.

Marco imagines all kinds of different fish in the sea, ranging from an eskimo fish to a long, long, drawn out fish.

In the end, Marco believes that if he keeps trying, he just might catch that fish he’s been waiting for.


The story has a protagonist who is hopeful, even after being told to have doubts about his current efforts. He stays patient and believes in what he’s doing. The message of being a positive thinker is important and particularly relevant today. It’s much easier to be cynical with age than to take on life with a positive attitude.

I loved experiencing Marco’s imagination. It’s lively, vivid, and hopefully inspires and children to expand their own imaginations. If Marco doesn’t end up catch any fish, it’s still time well spent.

I enjoyed how the book teaches children about basic shapes, sizes, and colors. It’s a very “Seuss” thing to do and I’m glad it’s present in the story.

From an illustration standpoint, the book jumps from pages with color to pages that are just black and white. I enjoyed this because when you turn from a black and white page to a page with color, it really pops. It keeps the reader engaged with the story.

It’s a Dr. Seuss book, so of course the story is very imaginative. Dr. Seuss makes all kinds of off-the-wall creations in his books and I have always loved discovering them. This book has plenty!

Critique time. For starters, the book is a bit longer than I would have liked it to be. The book is 64 pages in total. After 40 pages, I was ready for the book to conclude. 

This book has also been under some criticism for the way it portrays people at times throughout the book. This is a big deal. The world has changed a lot since this book came out. Some books age well. In the eyes of many, this story did not.

Re-read Value

Here’s the metric I use: When you’re a parent and your child asks to read this book 3 or more days in a row, how likely are you to want to jump head first through a wall?

My kids were relatively indifferent to this book. I haven’t found myself re-reading this book multiple days in a row.

Final Thoughts

I liked how Marco models what it looks like to be hopeful despite the discouragement of others. While that’s a message I want that message to sink in with my kids, this book is difficult to review because of the way it represents some of the characters throughout the story. The book is a Caldecott Honor winner for a reason, but it’s also been withdrawn from publication for a reason, too. Give it a read if you feel so inclined, but I would recommend reading it to yourself first before reading it to your kids. Only you can decide what’s right to read to your kids. Looking for more children’s book reviews or some of C.K.’s projects to read? You’ve come to the right place! Enjoy!