Friday, April 5, 2013

An open letter to David McKee

So this is somewhat of an elephant-test – I’ll know what it is when I see it. Or better yet, when Henry and Sophia do.

They will let everyone know.

But we have a bit of a situation with a friend/creation of yours. He’s sort of everywhere. And he’s forcing us all to see a bit of our own true colors – that we’re all a bit unexpected, colorful, original and fun-loving. 

Its not entirely your fault. We have somewhat of a reading-problem in this house. Not me, of course. I am strictly monogamous with my books. But Henry and Sophia? They’re all over the place. Nonfiction one minute and Elmers the next. And some days they’ll pile them up and read parts of one and merge it with another. Its almost….patchwork.

Backstory: for those unfamiliar with him – Elmer is a patchwork elephant. As in Red. Orange. Black. Green. Blue. Pink. Purple. Yellow. And he lives with a herd of Gray elephants. And he is subtle. And lovable. He saves his friends by “escaping” predatory hunters on stilts (right? brilliant), in another tale he literally blows away, he saves teddy bears, and shows his friends the many-benefits of things like snow.

AND he is hilarious.

The books are all filled with a rich and deep laughter that is a signature of three-year-olds (which is probably why mine like them so much – they’re well-matched). And each title will DELECTABLY surprise readers with everything this large, witty, colorful, mammalian-comedian can dish out (and lest not forget his ventriloquist cousin Wilbur, he’s only black-and-white, but equally as unpredictable - as in, he ends up stuck in a tree - and we're left to imagine how this actually happened).

But Elmer has really been the elephant-in-the-room for some time – I try to pretend that our obsession with him is just temporary. But he becomes a part of our everyday art projects, a crafty inspiration (we make mini-versions with square-cut tissue paper) – we even have regular Elmer Day Parades (and situations to dress up in BIG colors). Yup, the dog joined in too. I know in the books the parades are merely annual events, but we’ve seen-the-elephant and it continues to be just as important with each encounter, with each turning of the page. 

He has even infiltrated our baking. Outside of your Elmer books, our other weakness is eating/creating/sharing baked goods (okay, okay, there are more weaknesses). So, yeah, we went there. We created an Elmer Cake – only one that is patchwork on the {inside}. We'd be happy to send you some.

So, Mr. McKee, outside of thanking you for creating and sharing such a happy-go-lucky character, I have one question to ask on behalf of my children: my daughter asked me the other day, “When IS Elmer’s birthday?” And for this, I appeal to you. I would guess that it is April 1st because Elmer is such a trickster, or perhaps it is April 2nd being International Children’s Book Day – but if you know our multi-colored friend’s date of birth, please – I beg of you – share it with me, so I can share it with the twins.

If not, we might just have to make this (and sing to him) every day.



  2. I can't handle your family. You guys rock.

    The cake looks amazing!

  3. touching. lovely. inspiring. playful...and beautifully written. I don't know how your kids keep getting cuter. I wouldn't have thought that was possible.