Elmer the Patchwork Elephant

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Elmer the Patchwork Elephant
Elmer the Patchwork Elephant (cover art).jpg
Book cover for Elmer the Patchwork Elephant

Author David McKee
Illustrator David McKee
Language English
No. of books 39 (List of books)

Elmer the Patchwork Elephant (often shortened to Elmer) is a children's picture book series by the British author David McKee.

The books[edit]

Elmer was first published by Andersen Press in 1989. The books are published in the United Kingdom by Andersen Press and were published in the United States by Harper Collins originally, Andersen press USA now publishes in America. Thirty-four book titles have been created since 1989, and the series has sold over eight million copies in fifty languages around the world. Satoshi Kitamura carried out the Japanese translation.


Elmer is an elephant who has a colourful body, with yellow, orange, red, pink, purple, blue, green, black and white squares arranged as a patchwork. He has a cheerful and optimistic personality, and he loves practical jokes.

The stories are suitable for early exploration of the themes and issues relating to the concept of diversity. One day, Elmer decides that he wants to look like all the other elephants, and paints himself grey in order to 'blend in'. Once painted, they - and the other jungle creatures - no longer recognise him. He returns to the herd and the other elephants stand quietly, until Elmer can't take the quiet any more and he lifts his trunk and then, at the top of his voice, shouting "Boo!", which unknowingly surprises the other elephants. The other elephants immediately realise that the grey elephant must be Elmer and applaud him for his best joke ever. When it begins to rain, the grey paint that Elmer has covered himself with starts to disappear, and Elmer's "true colours" are revealed, much to the delight of his friends, who preferred his multicoloured and fun loving personality. Following their happy reunion, the elephants reassure Elmer that they love him because of his differences, and not in spite of them, and they celebrate by painting themselves in multi-coloured paint, in recognition of Elmer's unique appearance and personality.


The character has been turned into a children's television series, consisting of thirty-nine fifteen-minute episodes with David Holt playing Elmer, Maria Darling as the narrator, Jane Horrocks as Wilbur, and with an all-star cast playing other characters including Grandpa Eldo. It also features in a wide range of merchandising. His first story is also featured and animated in Anytime Tales, a storytelling animated programme narrating five of David McKee and Tony Ross' stories each. The story of Elmer was narrated by Johnny Morris.



28 May 2016 was declared Elmer's Day by publisher Andersen Press.[1] Libraries and bookshops across Britain held Elmer themed events.[2]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ "Elmer Day". www.andersenpress.co.uk. Andersen Press. Archived from the original on 1 May 2016. Retrieved 27 June 2016. 
  2. ^ "Elmer the Patchwork Elephant celebrated in libraries". www.suffolklibraries.co.uk. Suffolk Libraries. 25 May 2016. Retrieved 27 June 2016.