What to read after... Elmer

Published on: 20 May 2020

Did you know that 23 May is Elmer Day? We love David McKee's patchwork pachyderm, but if you've read all the books, which other stories might you enjoy?

We've come up with some ideas in the latest edition of What to Read After and would love to hear your recommendations too...


Elmer the patchwork elephant stands out from the crowd, but always celebrates his uniqueness. A hero for our times, Elmer is also a rainbow-coloured icon of inclusiveness, love and friendship.

If you're looking for more books that celebrate diversity, identity, belonging and ELEPHANTS, here are some suggestions...

For more books about being yourself...

The front cover of Want to Play Trucks?

Nowadays, there are lots of lovely picture books that remind children it's okay to be themselves. Julian is a Mermaid has rightly received much notice for its beautiful artwork and joyful message of self-acceptance.

Ann Stott and Bob Graham's Want to Play Trucks? and Michael Escoffier and Roland Garrigue's Princess Kevin remind us that playfulness is important: we can be playful with identity and also play with whatever toys we want.

And Cerrie Burnell's Mermaid and Patricia Hegarty and Greg Abbott's Everybody's Welcome are both celebratory and inclusive picture book reads with the spirit of Elmer firmly in mind.

For more books about elephants...

The front cover of Have You Seen Elephant?

If you're looking for other picture books about elephants, Bing Bai and Yuanyuan Shen's The Elephant That Ate the Night is a lovely bedtime read, or, for something completely different, Angus Mackinnon and James Thorp's The Elephant in the Room has some of Elmer's bright, graphic quality alongside a detective theme.

Elsewhere, Waterstones Children's Laureate Cressida Cowell and Neal Layton's Emily Brown and the Elephant Emergency is a reminder for parents that sometimes it's easier just to go with the flow rather than be overly protective, and David Barrow's Have You Seen Elephant? is a silly, fun exercise in finding an elephant who is hiding in the most ridiculous of places!

Animal-themed adventures for older children present many great elephant options. Nizrana Farook's The Girl Who Stole an Elephant and Jane Kerr's The Elephant Thief are both adventures with plenty of derring-do and feisty girl protagonists.

Or for slightly younger readers looking for an elephant story, Sylvia Bishop's Erica's Elephant is a lovely tale of friendship, and Elen Caldecott's How Kirsty Jenkins Stole the Elephant is a poignant story about losing a grandparent which will also make children smile.

For more animal adventures...

The front cover of The Little Mistake

Had enough elephants? There are lots of other animal adventures your children might enjoy. Dick King-Smith is a perennial favourite with books like The Sheep-Pig and The Queen's Nose; Nicola Davies' animal-themed novels like The Little Mistake and Flying Free are also excellent reads for animal lovers.

Becka Moor and Anne Miller's Mickey and the Animal Spies is a really funny read about an alternative MI6 made of animals, or for something different, Elliot Perlman and Laura Stitzel's The Adventures of Catvinkle tells the story of a rather posh cat who suddenly finds she has to make friends with a Dalmatian!

Join in!

You've heard our suggestions - now we would absolutely love to hear which books you would recommend to an Elmer fan! Did your children discover something else they loved, or have you read something recently which fits the bill?

Let us know by leaving your comments in the box below or tweeting us @BookTrust using the hashtag #WhatToReadAfter!

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