You're probably not surprised to hear that Dr. Seuss did both the writing and illustrating in Marvin K. Mooney Will You Please Go Now!.
Let's do a quick Marvin K. Mooney checklist:
• Drawings are outlined in black pen. Sketchy, no?
• There are bright and vibrant colors, but only a few per page. (Notable exception: the Zumble-Zay.)
• Curvy and saggy lines abound. Where you'd expect to find straight lines and sharp corners—such as on a jet or bureau—Seuss instead draws more rounded figures, giving them a very natural and whimsical feel.
• Typical to Seuss's style, machines as simple as a bicycle are spruced up to be complex and visually interesting, while the inventions of his imagination like the Zumble-Zay are simply insane.
• Also true to form, the creatures and characters have soft, furry features—even the fish!
Seuss's illustrations bring life to his poems. We're not trying to knock his books on the written level, but you have to admit that something would be missing without those drawings.
Sure, we can read "You can go / in a hat" and understand the words perfectly fine (20-21). But just how ridiculous those words are might pass us by. After all, we tend to read words very, very quickly. Life is short, and there are a lot of things to read out there.
It's something else to read those words next to a picture of Marvin airborne, gripping the edge of the hat as he sails around the text itself. Slowing down and really taking in the picture forces us to consider the true ridiculousness and intent of the words. Here at Shmoop, we believe the more ridiculous something is, the better.
Seuss is like a coach teaching children how to stretch and train their brain muscles properly. Just minus those stupid whistles all coaches seem to own.
Let's take a look at the Crunk-Car (44) as an example. If a child reads the words Crunk-Car, their mind will probably picture a car familiar to them—family car. The modifier "Crunk" will probably just pass them right by. It's not that they're poor readers or anything, but young minds tend to prioritize information. And in language, nouns and verbs get top billing.
So our dear Dr. Seuss gives them a helping hand. His drawing of a Crunk-Car flies completely off the rails compared to the Subarus and Chevys sitting in your neighborhood driveways. The thing has legs for Pete's sake. Children see the word car parked right next Seuss's illustration, and the possibilities of what can and can't be a car increase significantly. And if a car doesn't have to be a four-wheeled Ford, then what else can be different, unique, and weird?
Ah, now they're thinking.
Finally, let's consider why Seuss chose a cartoony art style over something a little more realistic. Our guess? Substance. Sure you can show Marvin going on stilts in a realistic manner without second thought (41). But what about a lion's tail (48)?
You can draw it; that's no problem. But would it look appealing? A lion dragging Marvin through the veldt dirt while chasing its dinner, fangs dripping with anticipatory drool? Alternatively, you can go the Seuss route and show Marvin surfing through the air as the lion playfully bounds about on furry paws. Yeah, we're going to go with Seuss on this one.