Traditional Thursdays: Elmer by David McKee

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Elmer by David McKee, published in 1968, is a timeless tale about a patchwork-colored elephant named Elmer. He is yellow and orange and red and pink and purple and blue and green and black and white. But, all the other elephants were the same grey “elephant color.” Elmer felt different.

Just because Elmer was different didn’t stop him from always making the other elephants laugh with his silly jokes. However, he was unhappy. Elmer wanted to be like all the other elephants! He didn’t want to be different anymore!

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So, Elmer ran away, covered himself in elephant-colored berry juice with berries he found in the forest, then returned to the elephant herd. Finally, he looked just like all the other elephants. The herd was quiet and serious, they were no longer laughing and having fun. They missed Elmer!

Suddenly, it started to rain, and Elmer’s berry juice was washed away! All of the other elephants laughed and laughed at Elmer’s biggest joke yet! And now, every year, there is a day dedicated to celebrating Elmer, and all the other elephants color themselves in beautiful colorful patterns and have a parade!

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Elmer was written for children ages 4-8. It is loved by all children because of its silly story and bright, colorful images. The writing style is simple, but the story contains a deeper message – that we should love and celebrate who we are! We are all unique, and that is something to smile about! Children and adults alike should be proud to show our “true colors” and “patchwork” selves. This wonderful, happy story can be read and enjoyed universally to children of all cultures, races, and backgrounds.

– Madi Goeringer

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