By David Mckee
Elmer is a story about a young elephant who is a little different from his usual herd. Elmer’s unusual multicolored checkerboard body is the wonder for all the other elephants, who are characteristically gray. His optimism and a great sense of humor kept the entire community in a cheery mood.
“If there was even a little smile, it was usually Elmer who started it.”
But one night Elmer began to worry. He couldn’t sleep for thinking.
“And the thing that he was thinking was that he was tired of being different.”
He got worried about why did he look so different from all the others. Was that why the other elephants were laughing at him? And one early morning he slipped far away in the jungle. After a long walk, he found a large bush with gray berries. He determined to somehow cover himself with grey so that he would blend in with the others.
He rejoined his herd, however, nobody noticed his return and followed their usual serious routine.
“Elmer felt that something was wrong … the more he looked at the serious, silent, still standing elephants, the more he wanted to laugh. Finally, he could bear it no longer …”
Finally, the practical joker in Elmer emerges, and he soon has the whole gang laughing again. Also, it started to rain so the magical Elmer’s true colours that beautiful patchwork started to show again. Everyone in the herd was so happy to have their popular prankster back that they decided to celebrate this day as a special day every year, On “Elmer’s Day”, every elephant would decorate themselves with unique and colourful patterns, and Elmer must decorate himself to look … yes, you’ve guessed it!
So every year, on the day of the parade, “if you happen to see an elephant ordinary elephant colour, you will know it must be Elmer.
From the start of this first story, the message is clear. Elmer is different, and he is accepted and valued just the way he is by his friends. He has a special talent to make everyone happy. When he changes his appearance and no longer looks like the Elmer, he is ignored by his friends. He experiences what it feels like when one is suddenly treated differently and ostracised. In this book, children may begin to think of the value of friendship and family, identity and diversity, as well as being true to oneself. When Elmer’s true colours are revealed, his friends are surprised and delighted. They much prefer his multicolored and fun-loving nature and reassure Elmer that they love him because of his differences, and not in spite of them.
Inspired by the illustrations from the book, this DIY activity teaches important fine motor skills for children’s development. Engaging in activities like these gives children a break from the monotonous work of tracing or coloring, and gives a vast range of movement that is useful. They are able to stabilize the cutouts while passing the Lace through the lacing holes, which strengthens the developing fingers and muscles. You can make this activity by paper strips or ribbons and an elephant-shaped cutout. Another colourful activity would be pasting paper pieces to make unusual patterns or Mosaic art.
Elmer by David Mckee is an absolutely delightful picture book for age 4-6yrs.
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