All children who love Elmer, the patchwork elephant, will know that he is an extremely kind and helpful elephant. In this delightful book, Elmer helps his small friend the butterfly. But when Butterfly offers to help him in return, if he ever needs him, Elmer can't possibly imagine how such a small creature could ever help a creature as big as him. Little does he know, he is going to have to call on Butterfly for help much sooner than he would ever imagine.
One day, Elmer, the patchwork elephant, is out walking when he hears a cry for help. It's his cousin, Wilbur, playing tricks and because of this, when Elmer hears a second cry for help he is tempted to ignore it. Luckily, he doesn't though, as this time the plea is for real as Butterfly is trapped behind a fallen branch. It does not take Elmer long to set his small friend free and, of course, Butterfly is enormously grateful. Anxious to return the favour, Butterfly promises to repay Elmer one day and tells him just to call if help is needed. Elmer thinks that is highly unlikely and, as he goes on his way, he chuckles:
A butterfly saving and elephant, that's a good one!
At the same time, he notices a narrow path leading off the main one and decides to investigate. Unfortunately, the path leads along a cliff and becomes so narrow that there is no room for the sizeable Elmer to turn round. He finds himself stuck in the cave at the end of the path and has no option but to call for help. Luckily, there is a very small friend listening out for him and ready to help. But what can Butterfly do? She may be tiny but she definitely has a plan.
David McKee has written yet another charming Elmer story to add to our collection. It's a lovely simple tale and one that illustrates how important it is to help others with small acts of kindness. My daughters loved the way that little Butterfly was able to help his large friend and echoed one of the lines in the story:
Fancy a butterfly saving an elephant!
There is also a good deal of humour in the story with Elmer's mischievous cousin Wilbur and also in the bright colourful illustrations. Elmer fans will recognise the bold style with in the pictures and enjoy the comical looks on all of the elephants' faces.
As in all the Elmer books, the language used is quite straightforward which would make this a suitable book for newly confident readers as well as for sharing with younger children. There is also quite a large amount of text on some pages, compared to some picture books, which means that the story has quite a bit of detail. Alongside this enjoyable story are the entertaining illustrations which makes it all adds up to a very satisfying read.
This review has previously appeared under my name at www.thebookbag.co.uk
As well as being the author of many Elmer books, David McKee is also the creator Mr Benn and King Rollo, which I'm sure many of the older generation reading this review, will remember.
My son loves the Elmer book and this is just the latest in a long line that he chose from the library at nursery last week. For those of you who have not seen Elmer before, he is a brightly coloured patchwork elephant who lives in the jungle with all his friends.
This story has a touch of Aesops fable about it and it's not difficult to see the resemblance to The Lion and The Mouse.
In this book though, the story starts with Elmer having his usual walk through the jungle when he hears a voice that he thinks in coming from high up in the trees. Really it is just his cousin Wilbur playing a trick on him and they both have a good laugh.
As Elmer walks further on he hears another voice and thinks it is just Wilbur again, until he sees a small butterfly, trapped inside a hole under a huge branch that has fallen. He quickly moves the branch and the butterfly tells him that if he is ever in need of rescuing then Elmer should call on him right away. Elmer laughs a bit at this as he thinks the idea of a butterfly being able to rescue a big elephant is quite amusing.
Of course you then know that something is bound to happen and Elmer finds himself trapped in a cave down a steep cliff, after the pathway has crumbled and fallen away. His friends are too far away so he calls on the butterfly that gathers up all his friends to go and save him. Wilbur heads the rescue and drops a creeper for Elmer to tie around himself before they all pull him up.
Elmer is very grateful to the butterfly and is then shocked to hear a voice coming from the cave. Of course it is only Wilbur up to his tricks again and as in all good Elmer books, the other elephants think they should tickle him to teach him a lesson.
In this book we see that it is not only Elmer who is differently coloured, as Wilbur is also patchwork but in only black and white. As with all the Elmer books, the colours and patterns on plants and trees are amazingly detailed and this book is certainly good at catching the eye of a young child.
I've been a fan of these books for a long time now and my son is captivated by both the funny stories and the gorgeous illustrations. In this story we are treated to a slightly different version of the Aesop fable where a mouse does a lion a favour by getting a thorn from his paw. The story may be different but the theory is just the same and this is great for showing a child that by doing a good deed for someone is a way of making a good friend who may help you in the future.
The unlikely scenario of a butterfly helping out an elephant is not as silly of course as a herd of elephants dropping a creeper down the side of a cliff, before pulling another elephant to safety, but as with all the Elmer stories, it works really well.
My favourite bit of the book though is right at the end when they all decide to try to tickle Wilbur for his tricks. It's just a shame that Wilbur is already running away to safety.
***Other Elmer Books***
Elmer's Hide and Seek
Elmer and the Wind
Elmer and Snake
Elmer and Wilbur
Elmer and Grandpa Eldo
Look! There's Elmer
Elmer in the Snow
Elmer and the Lost Teddy
***Price and Availability***
The price of the paperback copy we have is £4.99 but it is available for the cheaper price of £3.96 at www.dvd.co.uk. It is also available in hardback for £9.99 but is available from Tesco for only £6.49
Paperback ISBN No. 0099439689
Hardback ISBN No. 1842701045
One day, as Elmer is strolling through the jungle, he hears a cry for help. A butterfly has been trapped in a hole by a fallen branch. Elmer rushes to the rescue and frees her with ease. In return, she promises to help Elmer should he ever need it. He cannot imagine how a tiny butterfly could ever help him, but finds out sooner than expected.