Author(s): David McKee
Illustrator/Photographer: David McKee
Publisher and Year: 1989-Lothrop, Lee, & Shepard Books
Number of pages: 32
Tags/Themes: Danielle Burge, Elephant, Individuality, Bullying, Diversity, Colorful, Humorous, Happiness, Peer Pressure, Identical, Irony
Descriptive Annotation: The story, Elmer, shares the day in a life of Elmer the Elephant. He lived in the jungle where all of the elephants were different sizes and heights but all were the same color except Elmer. He was a patchwork print and his skin was many different colors. The other elephants relied on Elmer for laughter because the funny jokes and games were always his ideas. One day, he was sick of the other laughing at him so he ran away. He had a plan to go roll around in elephant-colored berries, which would change skin to the as the other elephants. Once he returned, the other elephants didn’t even notice him. After a long period of ignorance, Elmer couldn’t take it anymore. He surprised the other elephants by screaming really loud and startling them. They all broke into laughter and wished Elmer was there to laugh too. The story ends with it a rain cloud appearing and washing the elephant color off of Elmer. Once the other elephants realized it was he, they laughed hysterically and said it was his best joke yet. They decided to celebrate that day every year with Elmer changing to elephant color and the others painting themselves multiple colors for the Elmer’s Day parade.
Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis: In this book the cultural diversity is the difference between Elmer and the other elephants. He felt as if he was the outcast because he is multiple colors and not elephant color. To make himself look identical to the others, he made himself elephant color to be the same. The cultural diversity lesson here is that everyone is different and there are many differences between cultures but that doesn’t make one more superior than the others.
The language in this book is fairly simple and well suited for any elementary classroom. The text is decodable and easy to comprehend. For the younger elementary students, some of the vocabulary may be challenging for some. Teacher assistance might be best for the younger grades.
Interdisciplinary Connections: I would incorporate this book into a Fine Arts lesson teaching different collage techniques with different color tissue paper. Students would cut out multiple tissue paper squares of all different colors and paste them on an outline of Elmer. Then they would display somewhere that reflects light through them, which makes them look similar to stained glass. We did a lesson similar to this in my Kindergarten cooperating classroom and the students responded positively. The goal was to teach the students that being different is okay and not everything has to look the same.
Other Information: Overall, Elmer has been an excellent resource and I have had many great experiences as both a student and a prospective educator. I will have this as a resource in my future classroom for many different lesson and unit plan ideas.