Elmer the Patchwork Elephant

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For the Disney short film and character, see Elmer Elephant.
Elmer the Patchwork Elephant
Book cover for Elmer the Patchwork Elephant
Author David McKee
Language English
No. of books 34 (List of books)

Elmer the Patchwork Elephant is a children's picture book series by the British author David McKee.

The books[edit]

Elmer was originally published in 1968. A slightly different version was published in 1989. The books are published in the United Kingdom by Andersen Press and in the United States by Harper Collins. 34 book titles have been created since 1989, and the series has sold nearly 5 million copies in 40 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 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, as Elmer discovers that when he tries to change his appearance in order to 'blend in' with the other elephants, they no longer recognise him, or accept him as one of their own. This makes Elmer sad, and he experiences how it feels to be treated like an outcast, after being ostracised by his old friends. It's only when it begins to rain, and the grey paint that Elmer has covered himself with starts to disappear, that Elmer's 'true colours' are revealed, much to the surprise and delight of his friends, who preferred his multicoloured and fun loving persona. 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 TV series. It also features in a wide range of merchandising. His first story is also featured and animated in Anytime Tales, a storytelling animated program reading five of David McKee and Tony Ross' stories each, the story of Elmer was narrated by Johnny Morris.



28 May 2016 was declared Elmer 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.