Even if you’ve not previously read an Elmer book, so ubiquitous is this patchwork pachyderm that he will be instantly familiar. Probably it is best to begin with the eponymous title, introducing the Elmer’s Day Parade, on which all other elephants paint their boring grey selves with colourful patterns galore and parade, led by Elmer with his patchwork obliterated by grey berry-juice.
Then, perhaps, read Elmer and Wilbur, which introduces Elmer’s ventriloquist chessboard-patterned cousin (it’s rather hard to explain ventriloquy, if that’s the word I want, without being able to demonstrate, I warn you). Having absorbed these peculiarities, the (many) other Elmer adventures will seem less odd. Less odd, rather than not odd, mark you. Rainbows that lose their colour, rather complex tricks, and elephant-lifting gales will strain credulity, but the unfailing politeness of all the animals and the affectionate incompetence of the none-too-bright elephant herd will keep you entranced. Also, the Elmer books have quite an advanced turn of phrase, which makes a change.
Right, back to this particular book. Elmer’s Special Day refers to the annual elephant-decorating parade. Preparations are extremely noisy, and, as so often is the case, the neighbours can only be placated by an invitation to the party.
Excellent illustrations of the elephants planning their patterns and the wonderful costumes of the other animals will charm your child for minutes on end. The twist is that the neighbouring animals also wear elephant masks, so that it will still be an elephant parade. This got us snipping and colouring, and presto, soon the entire family were parading in our very own elephant masks too. Lots of fun.