Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews



David McKee
Picture Book  Series
For ages 4 to 6
HarperCollins, 1989   ISBN: 978-0688091712

Somewhere in a jungle, there is a herd of elephants. There are old elephants, young elephants, tall ones, short ones, fat ones, and thin ones. They are all happy, and they are all grey in color, except for Elmer. Elmer is a patchwork elephant whose body is covered with bright and cheerful reds, yellows, greens, oranges and other colors. Thanks to him, the rest of the elephants are happy because Elmer comes up with games and jokes to amuse them.

Unfortunately, Elmer himself is not happy. He wishes he were grey like the other elephants because he thinks that they are laughing at him. Eager to try to fix his problem, Elmer goes off into the jungle and he walks a long way until he finds a tree that is covered with grey berries. Elmer shakes the tree until the berries fall down, and then he rolls on the fruit until he is grey all over, from the trip of his trunk to the tip of his tail. Elmer is delighted that he now looks like “any other elephant.” Surely, he will be happy now.

In this much loved picture book we meet an elephant who learns that being different is not a bad thing after all. He discovers that he has a lot to offer, patchwork colors and all. The story reminds readers of all ages that it is important to be true to yourself, and that real happiness may be quite closer than you think; if you open your eyes and look around you may even find it.

With wonderfully colorful illustrations and a loveable main character, this is a picture book that has been delighting children and their families since the book first came out in 1968.