Feb 5, 2012

#TheList, No. 27: Elmer

The goal of David McKee's book is to promote individuality and it succeeds.  If you aren't yourself and try to blend in with the crowd, then you're letting everyone and yourself down.  In case you don't remember reading Elmer, the gist of the story is that a patchwork elephant is upset that he doesn't look the same as everyone else.  He paints himself grey, becomes unrecognizable, and upsets his friends when they believe that he's not around to make them laugh.  When it rains and washes away his paint, they think it's his best joke yet and declare it Elmer's day where they paint themselves vibrant colors to emulate their patchwork friend.

It's a good story and I obviously agree that everyone should be themselves.  There's no bullying in this book, the "normal" grey elephants love Elmer because he always makes them laugh with his ideas for games and jokes, NOT because they enjoy making fun of them.  Elmer still feels unsettled about his appearance because he's different, which is something everything goes through regardless of what they look like or their popularity levels.  So I like that this is a book about individuality and being true to yourself without the bullying counterpart that is so prevalent in today's society (with good reason, obviously).  

This makes a great read-aloud with the simple story and vibrant illustrations.  The invention of Elmer's Day practically screams to be used as an activity for younger children in a library.  Just declare that day as Elmer's Day and start painting kids' faces!  That is one of the most fun things to do, I mean come on.  Who doesn't like that?  And if you're against messy faces, then have the children color in pictures of elephants and try to come up with interesting patterns to compete with Elmer's patchwork skin.  Arts & Crafts time is the best time...except for nap time.  Which is what time it is right now.

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