David McKee

Andersen Press, 1989

Elmer is an elephant.  But he is no ordinary elephant.  Elmer is a patchwork elephant. He is yellow and orange and red and pink and purple and blue and green and black and white. And he gets into all sorts of adventures with his elephant friends and jungle mates in the series that is so popular it’s available in a range of languages which is perfect for those with students who are lucky enough to be bilungual. and formats including an ebook from iTunes and a YouTube clip.  

Elmer is among my list of perfect story books.  It has a most engaging character who is quite child-like; the stories are simple, and at times funny, but there is is a richness which can lead to lots of prediction, problem-solving and discussion; and the pictures are colourful and support the text perfectly. It’s great as a read-aloud but it also attracts those early readers who are trying books out for themselves.

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

Elmer is a rich teaching tool. Very little ones can practise their colour recognition and an Internet search will return a range of blackline masters to colour and help develop fine motor skills. The technique that McKee has used to depict the jungle vegetation lends itself to creating a mural using cut-paper shapes and adding pictures of Elmer’s friends and labelling these helps vocabulary development.  There’s scope for an investigation of where Elmer might live and who might live there with him, as well as providing parallel non-fiction resources as children clamour to find out more about this appealing species, including their sustainability.  There’s a reason television news shows always report the birth of baby elephants.

Definitely one of my best.

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