Monday, January 27, 2014

Elmer in the Snow - a book review

Picture-Books in Winter
by Robert Louis Stevenson

Summer fading, winter comes
Frosty mornings, tingling thumbs,
Window robins, winter rooks,
And the picture story-books.

Water now is turned to stone
Nurse and I can walk upon;
Still we find the flowing brooks
In the picture story-books.

All the pretty things put by,
Wait upon the children's eye,
Sheep and shepherds, trees and crooks,
In the picture story-books.

We may see how all things are
Seas and cities, near and far,
And the flying fairies' looks,
In the picture story-books.

How am I to sing your praise,
Happy chimney-corner days,
Sitting safe in nursery nooks,
Reading picture story-books?

Elmer was originally published in 1968.  A slightly different version was publish in 1969. The books were published in the UK. 27 book titles have been created since then and the series has sold nearly 5 million copies in 40 different languages around the world.  The character has been turned into a children's TV series, and has a wide range of merchandising.  

Elmer is an elephant who has a colourful body, all the colours arranged as a patchwork.  He is cheerful and optimistic and loves practical jokes.  Elmer discovers that when he tries to change his appearance in order to "blend in" the other elephants no longer recognize him, or accept him as their own.  This makes Elmer sad, and he finds out how it feels to be treated as an outcast.  It is 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 love him best multi-coloured.  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.

Title:  Elmer in the Snow
Author/Illustrator:  David McKee
Ages:  3-8

Elmer is in the midst of a complaint-fest by his friends who are finding the weather too chilly for their liking.  Elmer takes the herd on a journey where they discover perhaps they are better off than they think.  He guides his friends up a mountain in search of colder temperatures.  As they proceed they find the trees changing, the climb accelerating giving them extra warmth, and on the mountain top, a whole load of fun just waiting to be unleashed.  The elephants romp in the snow, have a snowball fight and happily slide and glide on the frozen water.  In true Elmer spirit he plays a prank on his friends adding to the joy and laughter that they are experiencing.  After their snow playtime it's time to head back to the warmth of their jungle home.  The valuable lesson they learn is that hot and cold both can loads of fun.  

About the author:

  • David McKee 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 McKee. Wikipedia

  • Book review rating:   8  (Fantastic!)

    Read on and read always!  

    * Remember that the challenge still stands for you to send me your best kid's poem and I will hopefully publish it right here so others can enjoy your work.   Please send your poem to:
    Subject line:  Storywrap's poem submission

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