cover image Elmer


David McKee. HarperCollins, $16.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-688-09171-2

Elmer the elephant is a colorful character. His heady optimism and unbridled sense of humor keep the entire community in a cheery mood. And Elmer's unusual multicolored checkerboard hide is the wonder of all the other elephants, who are characteristically gray. In spite of his sunny disposition, Elmer begins to feel conspicuous. He starts to believe the others are laughing at him because of his crazy patchwork coat. When Elmer discovers a bush in the jungle with elephant-colored berries, he shakes the bush and rolls in a berry mash until he is as gray as the others. Now no one seems to notice him; for a time he enjoys his anonymity, but after a while he begins to realize just how quiet and dull things are when he's not around. Finally the practical joker in Elmer emerges, and he soon has the whole gang laughing again. McKee's gentle humor and love of irony are in full force in this celebration of individuality and laughter. Well-designed spreads are washed with stunning color and the use of textured, painted and airbrushed surfaces contributes to the powerful visual impression. Ages 4-7. (Sept.)