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Elmer (Elmer)

4.21  ·  Rating Details  ·  8,164 Ratings  ·  268 Reviews
Elmer the elephant is bright-colored patchwork all over. No wonder the other elephants laugh at him! If he were ordinary elephant color, the others might stop laughing. That would make Elmer feel better, wouldn't it? The surprising conclusion of David McKee's comical fable is a celebration of individuality and the power of laughter.

Elmer the elephant, a colorful character
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published September 18th 1989 by HarperCollins (first published January 1st 1989)
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The Story of Babar by Jean de BrunhoffHorton Hears a Who! by Dr. SeussElmer by David McKeeThe Saggy Baggy Elephant by Kathryn JacksonBut No Elephants by Jerry Smath
Best Childrens Book About Elephants
3rd out of 77 books — 99 voters
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric CarleWhere the Wild Things Are by Maurice SendakGreen Eggs and Ham by Dr. SeussGoodnight Moon by Margaret Wise BrownThe Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss
Best Picture Books
155th out of 1,894 books — 1,234 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Stuck in a toy-shop in German-speaking Bern on Saturday, I picked up a copy of Elmar and tried to read it. My German is very uncertain, so I don't guarantee that I understood everything. Here's a tentative plot summary:

Elmer Goes Mainstream

Elephants are notoriously unimaginative, and quietly proud of their drab, gray conformity. But every now and then, you get an exception. Elmer was just such an elephant. A natural rebel and iconoclast, this was reflected even in his pigmentation, which was a b
Jan 02, 2016 michelle rated it really liked it
since this book is called "Elmar" in german (like my baby brother) I had to "read" this cute book hah hah.
Emma Long
Jul 17, 2012 Emma Long rated it it was amazing
The story of Elmer has always been a memorable one. From my own memories of the story from when I was little it has always held a strong yet familiar moral message.

Elmer is an elephant with a patchwork body of a variety of colours. He is a cheerful and optimistic character. However, when Elmer changes his appearance to fit in to his surroundings he is no longer recognisable by the other elephants. Of course this makes Elmer sad that he is no longer accepted and begins to understand how it feels
Jan 05, 2012 Zareen rated it really liked it
This book was given to my son as a gift and what a fabulous book it was. It touches on the want to be accepted because of similarities rather than being unique. Therefore with this in mind, the book cleverly highlights some important themes. Rings alarm bells for me and my son!
Elmer is a patchwork elephant living among grey elephants and provides fun and laughter. He is unique, but does not see it. He decides to cover his colourful patchwork with elephant berries because he thinks that the grey
May 01, 2012 Sandile rated it it was amazing
Elmer is a wonderful children's story with the underlying message that it is alright for everyone to be different and that we all possess unique qualities. I shared this book with Nursery children who were deeply engrossed by Elmer and his great patch work.

The primal focus of the story is on ‘Elmer ‘who is an elephant that does not resemble the other elephants in his herd. They are all grey – whereas he is remarkably dissimilar with patchwork with lots of different colours! Although Elmer keeps
Oct 24, 2012 Alison rated it really liked it
Elmer is the story of an elephant that is noticeably different to the others; he is a brightly coloured patchwork elephant. However Elmer did not want to be different to the other elephants as they laughed at him, so he tried to make himself ‘elephant colour’ like the others. After hatching a plan and rolling around in berry juice to make himself ‘elephant colour’ Elmer decides that being part of the crowd is too boring and realises that being different isn’t so bad after all. At the end of the ...more
Rebekah Shuffle
Sep 29, 2015 Rebekah Shuffle rated it it was amazing
Elmer the Elephant is a fantastic book created around the theme of diversity and how it is good to be different. Elmer is an elephant whose skin is a variety of colors, in the book they described it as patchwork. Elmer is an extremely funny character and all elephant in the herd found Elmer hilarious. However Elmer wasn’t happy because he was so different and when all the elephants were just getting up Elmer slipped away into the jungle. He took a long walk into the jungle until he found what he ...more
Hassan Ali
Mar 20, 2014 Hassan Ali rated it really liked it
Book review 3 - Elmer – David McKee

As soon as you see this book, you will definitely judge it by its front cover. The story is about an elephant called Elmer, who is unique, and very different from all the other elephants in the herd. Elmer is a patchwork of bright, rainbow colours but does not like the way he looks because it outcasts him from the herd. After, using numerous methods to disguise his patchwork of colours he begins to come to the conclusion that he believes it is silly to try and
Hajra Natha
Sep 02, 2015 Hajra Natha rated it it was amazing
Elmer- By David McKee

Elmer the Elephant is not like the rest of the herd he lives with. Elmer has a brightly coloured patchwork skin and has a cheerful, bubbly and jokey personality that brings a smile to all the other elephants’ faces. He spends his time playing jokes and entertaining the other elephants and making them smile. However, deep down felt saddened that he was different to the other elephants as they all looked the same with their grey skins and he was so different with his coloured
Aug 01, 2015 Siobhan rated it really liked it
A wonderful read from my childhood, one I’d certainly suggest for other youngsters. Whilst it is not my all-time favourite childhood read I can still recall all the details of this one meaning it certainly left a lasting impression upon my young mind.

And isn’t that what we want with children’s books, for them to leave a positive lasting impression?
Feb 19, 2014 Sonia rated it it was amazing
Elmer is an elephant who has patchwork colourful body with yellow, red, orange, purple, pink, green, blue, white and black. He is a happy and optimistic elephant who loves practical jokes.
The story is for key stage 1 showing children how to identify different colours. Elmer tries to blend in with other elephants and change his appearance as no one can accept him. Elmer is sad but when it rains and the grey paint disappears Elmer’s true colours are revealed and everyone prefers him as a multi-co
May 08, 2012 Jazel rated it it was amazing
Elmer by David Mckee is a story about an elephant who was covered in a patchwork of different colours. He always made the other elephants laugh and smile; they laughed with him and he always seemed the root of the fun. One night he could not sleep because he was thinking, he did not want to be a patchwork of colours, he wanted to be the same as everyone else. In the morning he takes a walk and finds a tree with ‘elephant coloured’ berries. He decides to cover himself with the juice of these grey ...more
Oct 06, 2011 Maria rated it really liked it
Elmer by David McKee is an extremely amusing, colourful book with a lovely moral to it. It tells the story of a multi-coloured elephant who begins to feel self-conscious of not being the same as his entire herd. He wants to look the same as them. However, when he does this he finds out that the other elephants are unhappy without the ‘old Elmer’ so he becomes himself again and they are all much happier, including Elmer.
This is a great book for teaching young children about the differences betwee
Jacqueline Field
Aug 21, 2012 Jacqueline Field rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Elmer the Elephant by David McKee

Elmer the elephant is bout an elephant that is not elephant colored. He was patchwork with all the different colors of the rainbow. When Elmer used to go into the jungle the other elephants would stare and laugh at Elmer.
Elmer hated that he was different so one day he went to a tree that had berries that were elephant colored growing from it. He shook the tree till the berries fell off and rubbed himself all over with the berry juice until he became elephant co
Jan 15, 2013 Angela rated it it was amazing
Elmer is an elephant who is different from all the other elephants; he is not 'elephant coloured, he is a patchwork of bright colours. One night he lies awake thinking about how it doesn't like being different to all the other elephants in the herd. He doesn't like his appearance. He creeps off while the other elephants are still asleep and finds a bush full of berries which are grey in colour. He rolls around in the berries until his patchwork colours are covered in grey and..he looks like all ...more
Jusna Begum
Nov 07, 2012 Jusna Begum rated it it was amazing
Elmer is a fiction story about trying to fit in. Elmer is a patch worked elephant with a cheerful personality and loves to play practical jokes. In order to fit in with the rest of the elephants Elmer decides to change his appearance and paints himself grey, however this back fires and the rest of the elephants no longer recognise him. They ignore him and this makes Elmer sad. He experiences how it feels to be treated like an outcast. It starts to rain and the paint is washed away relieving Elme ...more
Jamila Kamal
Jul 11, 2012 Jamila Kamal rated it it was amazing
"Elmer the elephant” by David Mckee is definitely one of my favourite childhood stories!! I remember reading this book and being drawn to the bright colours and the comical character of Elmer the elephant.

The story uses cheerful colours as Elmer is characterised as a friendly and funny multi-coloured patchwork elephant. Elmer recognises that he appears different from the other elephants, so he covers himself in grey coloured berries to blend in with the rest of the elephants. Elmer is no longer
Jun 26, 2012 Nadia rated it it was amazing
This was one of my favourite books to read when I was a child. The story is about Elmer, a multicoloured patchwork elephant who didn’t look like the other elephants. He is a happy, funny elephant who is loved by all the elephants and other animals in the jungle. However, Elmer thinks that all the animals are laughing at him, and not with him, because he looks different. One day he decides that he no longer wants to be a colourful elephant that stands out so he covers himself in elephant coloured ...more
Anna Nerkowski
Jun 14, 2012 Anna Nerkowski rated it it was amazing
Elmer is a wonderful story that teaches children that everyone is different and to celebrate being unique. Elmer the elephant is not like all the other grey elephants... he is brightly coloured patchwork!

He is a very happy elephant who is liked by all. However, one day he decides that he wants to be just like all the other elephants. He uses berries to cover his entire body so that he is grey just like everyone else. He happily begins his journey home. As he walks past his elephant friends and
Oct 13, 2011 Naz rated it it was amazing
This is a book that will stand the test of time, evryone will enjoy the excellent colourful pictures, children can learn many colours as they read along as elmer the elephant has a colourful body arranged in patchwork. He has a cheerful colouful personality and loves to joke. This story explores themes and issues of diversity, Elmer reaslises when he tries to change his appearance in order to fit in with the other elephants, they no longer recognise him or accept him as one of thier own. which m ...more
Khalida wahid
Sep 11, 2011 Khalida wahid rated it it was amazing
Reading Elmer is one of my earliest memories off reading. I remember being drawn to the colourful front cover and wondering why an animal which is usually so very grey has been painted in a patchwork off all the colours off the rainbow, I couldn’t wait to open the book to find out. The story is intriguing and the illustrations are beautifully colourful.
Elmer is a book about a colourful patchwork elephant. Elmer is the heart and soul of all the animals. He makes them all laugh. However Elmer beco
Andrea Grima
Jun 17, 2012 Andrea Grima rated it really liked it
The story is about an elephant that is different from other elephants because he is a patchwork of different colours. He has a great personality and is always making people laugh. The story goes n to tell how Elmer covers up his patchwork to make himself look the same as all the other elephants. Nobody recognises him, Elmer then shouts out loud and it begins to rain. The grey is washed off Elmer colourful patchwork is revealed. This book highlights the moral that no matter how hard you try to c ...more
Nov 02, 2013 Gail rated it it was amazing
This is my favourite book so far. I fell in love with it from the first picture - all the grey elephants standing together with a rich green background. It seems like oil pastel, but I'm not sure. I loved the colours though - the rich, bright colours and their combinations. And when I then turned the page to see Elmer, the patchwork elephant - I was utterly enchanted. A colourful patchwork elephant!

But it wasn't just the artwork that made me love this book. I loved the character of Elmer, and th
Katie Birtwistle
Jan 08, 2013 Katie Birtwistle rated it really liked it
Elmer is a story I had heard of but never had the chance to personally read until my SBT1 placement. I was placed in a Reception class and we were basing our weekly topics on the termly topic 'Magical Me'.

This particular story came into relevance to help the children to celebrate cultural, physical and religious differences amongst themselves and be more appreciative of being different.

The story of Elmer is based on a multi-coloured elephant who wants to be brown like all the other elephants. H
Sarah Walsh
Nov 25, 2012 Sarah Walsh rated it it was amazing
“Elmer was different. Elmer was patchwork. Elmer was yellow and orange and red and pink and….”

Elmer is a heart-warming, uplifting story of a young elephant that is different from all the other elephants in the herd. Unlike every other grey elephant in the herd, Elmer is a colourful, patchwork elephant. Like many young people, Elmer wishes he was the same as everyone else. One day he sets off to find a way to make himself a grey elephant. He succeeds with his wish but quickly realises that being
Sep 08, 2013 Ceri rated it really liked it

Elmer the Elephant is different to all the other elephants and because of this, he becomes sad, as the other elephants shun him, even though he has a cheerful personality. Elmer then tries to change his appearance to fit in with all his friends. However, when all the other elephants notice he is sad, they decide to all change their appearance so that Elmer doesn't feel left out! They reassure him that they they love him despite his looks.

I like this story as it introduces, in a child frien
Emer Mattimoe
Oct 20, 2011 Emer Mattimoe rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: 4-6 year olds
Elmer has a very colourful and eye catching cover. Would be a useful book when cover topic such as colours. The story also contains some nice underlying morals running through it. The story is about an elephant that is different from other elephants because he is a patchwork of different colours. He has a great personality and is always making people laugh. The story goes n to tell how Elmer covers up his patchwork to make himself look the same as all the other elephants. Nobody recognises him, ...more
Aug 16, 2012 Sanah rated it really liked it
Elmer the elephant is a vibrant and colourful book which celebrates individuality and difference.

Elmer is a multi-coloured patchwork elephant who feels different from the rest of the herd, as he is not grey like them. In a bid to blend in he covers himself in 'elephant coloured berries'. However Elmer soon learns that he is most happiest as a colourful patchwork elephant; being himself.

The book ends with all the elephants commemorating Elmer's individuality by celebrating 'Elmer day'. On Elmer
May 16, 2012 Fjóla rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: 3 - 6 year olds
If my son was an elephant, he would be an elephant like Elmer: yellow, orange, red, pink, purple, blue, green, black, white. So many times does he stress his multiple bright colors each time he pretends to be dog, or cat. But, Elmer does not take joy in being so colorful, because after all, who wants to be different?

I was probably expecting a silly story, but it's not. It's gentle and sensitive and my son was full of empathy for Elmer. In fact, I was surprised at how much he felt for him, right
Nov 15, 2012 Faye rated it it was amazing
Elmer the Elephants underlying theme is about celebrating differences. It is the story of a happy little elephant that is fed up because he isn't grey in colour like all the other elephants. One day he decides to play a practical joke on his friends and paints himself grey to be just like all the others in the herd. All goes well until it starts to rain...

I read this book to my Year 1 class purely for pleasure at the end of the day. In my SBT1 school there are over 40 different languages spoken
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For more information, please see
David McKee (born 2 January 1935) is a British writer and illustrator, chiefly of children's books and animations. He has used the pseudonym Violet Easton. He is frequently referenced as David (John) McKee.

For his contribution as a children's illustrator he was UK nominee for the biennial, international Hans Christian Anderse
More about David McKee...

Other Books in the Series

Elmer (1 - 10 of 29 books)
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  • Elmer and Wilbur
  • Elmer in the Snow
  • Elmer and the Kangaroo
  • Elmer and the Lost Teddy
  • Hide-and-Seek Elmer
  • The Elmer Pop-Up Book
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