Marvin K. Mooney,
To see the sum of the parts of your whole.
Is there something deeper? Are you a secret keeper?
And how can we possibly know?
Marvin K. Mooney Will You Please Go Now!
was penned in 'seventy-two.
It tells the tale of an epic fail
by a boy who's nothing like you.
Pointy-finger guy just wants him to leave
He gives options so not prosey:
Crunk-Car, mail, bike, or lion's tail,
Anything to get him to mosey.
But who is Marvin K. Mooney?, you ask.
Shmoop's got an idea to ponder.
Maybe he's Nixon, good ol' Dick M.,
Whose presidency was squandered.
Seuss wanted Nix to resign
Because he committed a crime.
Doc didn't care just how he did it
As long as he took that job—
AND QUIT IT!
But, oh, Marvin K., your name lives on.
Proving Seuss could write political.
So whenever a big-wig plays the con
And the population gets critical,
We think of you, and ask them to
take their scam
Marvin K. Mooney Will You Please Go Now! will teach adults how to really dig below the surface of a story and unearth some truly fantastic analytical treasure. Yep. This wacky poem written for a child's amusement can teach even you, a big, serious adult with credit cards and everything.
In 1974, humorist Art Buchwald—an adult in every conceivable manner from age and height to choice of attire—contested that Seuss had never written a political book. Seuss could have simply pointed out his long career as a political cartoonist during WWII, but our dear doctor had a better idea. He picked up Marvin K. Mooney, crossed out all instances of Marvin K. Mooney's name, and replaced them with Richard M. Nixon (source).
We figure Art's a pretty decent guy because he accepted his defeat gracefully and considered the lesson learned. Never assume a child's book exists at the surface level. Get digging and see what happenings be happening in them roots. You might just surprise yourself at what you discover and learn.
How many kids reading Seuss know who Richard Nixon is? Fair question. We're guessing 4.35% of them. Even by that fair estimate, how many of them understand Nixon's place in American history? .0001%? And that kid is too smart for his own good anyway.
That's where the surface level comes in. At this level of flowers and sunshine, Seuss presents his stories with simple words, imaginative ideas, and wacky drawings. Children don't need to know who Nixon is; they can enjoy their own unique Seuss story while adults chuckle over the then political, now historical content.
So, what's at the surface level for children? Simply put: imagination to lighten up the undesirable. Allow us to explain.
Marvin K. Mooney clearly does not want to go wherever it is he is going (bed? school? the house of a perfume-drenched aunt?). He's got that stubborn, hands-in-pocket childishness about his body language. Meanwhile, the pointy-hand is big and bossy and super adult with that father-type wrist watch. It's an instantly recognizable scenario for any child.
But thanks to the use of imagination, the undesirable request of "Do As I Say" becomes enjoyable. Notice how Marvin's frown one-eighties in the scenes showing imagination at work. Through imagination, the undesirable task of going becomes enjoyable, fun, and even welcomed. And that same smile appears on the last page, when Marvin finally leaves per the pointy-hand man's request.
In short, imagination has the power to make everything and anything better. Even, well, wherever it is Marvin is going.