Noah’s preschool teacher introduced his class to Elmer, so I decided to check out our local library to see if I could find more Elmer books for him. I’ve seen the patchwork elephant books around before, but never picked them up to take a closer look until recently. Noah loves all the Elmer books we’ve read together so far, and I think they’re a good series of books for young readers.
We started with the first book in the series, Elmer, since I had no idea what the books were about. I managed to get quite a few other titles in the series, and was pleasantly surprised that the books made reference to the earlier books in the series, as it provided some form of connection. Don’t worry if you don’t manage to get the books in chronological order though, because it doesn’t really make that much of a difference. It’s just a nice touch, that’s all. Also, do note that some stories are published under different titles, so it’s best if you flip through the books before borrowing them, just to make sure you don’t end up with the same ones.
Elmer is a very colourful patchwork elephant, who stands out from his ordinary, grey elephant friends, because well, of his colourful hide. He has a great sense of humour, and is well-liked by everyone, but deep down, he’s a little bothered that he doesn’t look like the other elephants. He comes up with an idea to blend in, but realises that he cannot and should not hide who he really is, and that ultimately, the colour of his hide doesn’t matter. I loved that all the other elephants preferred Elmer just the way/colour he was, and decided to celebrate Elmer’s difference by having an annual Elmer’s Day. What a beautiful way to teach a powerful lesson to children!
In Elmer Again, Elmer is bored, and thus comes up with a creative prank to play on his friends. With the help of another elephant, Elmer successfully pulls off this elaborate prank, and all the other elephants are completely befuddled when they wake up and realise that they ALL looked like Elmer. I thought it was really touching when they panicked because they thought Elmer was no longer colourful, and insisted that he tried to get his colours back again, because they needed an Elmer in their herd. Although the idea of acceptance isn’t clearly spelt out in the book, the reader can infer it from the story, and again, learn that being different isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Elmer and Snake was one of Noah’s favourite Elmer books, because he loved how the elephants were tricked by Snake. The elephants wanted to play a trick on Elmer, and asked Snake for help. Snake suggested that they convinced Elmer that he was turning paler, then went behind their backs to tell Elmer about the prank. When Elmer starts turning paler mysteriously, the other elephants become worried, and return to Snake for advice. In the end, the elephants, including Elmer, realise that Snake had played a trick on all of them, and had a good laugh about it. I liked that the elephants showed genuine concern for Elmer, and that they didn’t get upset with him for conspiring with Snake to trick them, because that’s what friendship is about, isn’t it?
Noah and I also talked about how Snake made Elmer turn pale, and I reminded him that adding white paint to other colours would make them become lighter shades of the original colours, since we came across the same concept in Herve Tullet’s Mix it Up.
Elmer and Snake
I’m glad that Noah’s teacher introduced this series of books to us, because the books are really quite easy and funny to read. I think they’re useful for discussing diversity and friendship with young children, especially since these heavy issues are dealt with in such a humorous manner. Do come back next Friday for part 2 of the Elmer books that we’ve read so far!
Check out the previous Friday Flips posts HERE. I’ve also created a photo album on Facebook with some other good reads, and will be updating it whenever I come across more books that we enjoy. Do pop by for a look HERE.
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