My wife recently came home from work with a bit of a bargain. One of those book companies that come round to businesses with a selection of cut price books each week had a bag full of Elmer books at a muchly reduced price, so she snapped them up for our two and a half year old daughter.
Both my wife and myself had very vague memories of seeing Elmer before, and let’s face it he’s not hard to forget, as he’s an elephant made out of patchwork colours, rather than bog standard elephant grey. I certainly couldn’t remember having read Elmer as a child, and it turns out the reason for that is because Elmer didn’t actually come along until 1989, by which time I had already sat my GCSEs, and multicoloured elephants weren’t part of the English syllabus.
So, having a child now allows me to catch up with something from the Eighties which I myself missed the first time round, and I must say I’ve been quite enjoying it.
In the first book, which is titled simply Elmer, we discover our patchwork friend is a bit of a joker. One day he gets bored of being different and heads off to find a bush laden with elephant coloured berries, which he promptly rolls around in to make himself look grey. He then goes back to the rest of his herd to play a trick on them.
This was the first in a series of what is now around twenty books, and in some of these we are introduced to two other members of Elmer’s family who are also rather uniquely coloured. First there is his cousin Wilbur, who could come in useful at car races as he is covered in black and white checks.
He is also a accomplished ventriloquist. Then there is Grandpa Eldo, who is a golden coloured elephant, and Rose, a young elephant who comes from another herd of elephants who are all completely pink in colour.
I think my favourite story from the one’s we got in our bag full has to be Elmer On Stilts, not only because the idea of elephants trying to hide from hunters by walking around on stilts is supremely silly, but also because the hunters in question look as if they have been lifted straight from an episode of Mr. Benn!