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David McKee was born in Devon and studied at Plymouth Art College. In the early part of his career, McKee regularly drew and sold humorous drawings to magazines and newspapers such as The Times Educational Supplement, Punch and the Reader’s Digest. David McKee has written and illustrated over 50 picture books for Andersen Press and has penned a number of children’s classics including King Rollo, Mr Benn, Not Now Bernard and Elmer the Patchwork Elephant. David loves to paint and now lives in the South of France but regularly visits the UK.
One of the World Book Day 2015 Authors David McKee is one of the best known illustrators of picture books, having created acknowledged modern classics such as Not Now, Bernard, Elmer the Patchwork Elephant, and Mr Benn, Gladiator. His books are published in many languages throughout the world, and many of them have been adapted for television. He was born in Devon and now divides his time between the South of France and London.
Have you seen Elmer’s Photo Patchwork, an innovative activity-based app that encourages creativity and fun? Elmer the Patchwork Elephant is an elephant who stands out from the herd, and Elmer’s app is different too. It doesn’t keep children glued to the screen, it makes them look up, look around and get inspired by the world. The only limit is their imagination. By using an iPad or iPhone’s camera to take photos of interesting colours and textures, kids can add them to an elephant’s patchwork pattern. Aimed at children aged 3+. Elmer’s Photo Patchwork app is available for £1.99 from the App Store for iPad and iPhone. View the app preview video here.
With its sturdy shaped board pages for little fingers, this Christmas gift is the perfect introduction for babies to the world of Elmer. It's two days before Christmas Eve, the night Papa Red visits, and the young elephants are very excited. This year Elmer has a special treat in store for the young elephants, if they can keep quiet and out of sight... Full of colour, wisdom and pathos, this classic Christmas tale has been abridged for the very youngest readers in this tactile shaped board book edition.
Bedtime – anytime – is better with Elmer and here’s another gorgeous story starring this much-loved patchwork hero. Elmer is babysitting two little elephants and decides a good walk will tire them out. Everyone they meet suggests he tell them a bedtime story, and everyone has a different favourite to recommend. When he finally comes to settle the little elephants down for the night, which story will he choose? It doesn’t matter, because all three are asleep before they get to the happy ever after! This is of course a perfect bedtime story – gentle, funny and full of warmth. David McKee’s illustrations always dazzle, and here the jungle scenes are practically glow in the dark.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month July 2021 | Award-winning David McKee’s highly original character Mr Benn enters a fancy dress shop on a whim and chooses a black and grey costume with the numbers 123456789 on it. No sooner has he tried it on than he finds himself in…a prison! Everything in the prison is grey and gloomy and everyone in the prison is sad. They are so sad that they spend most of their time crying! Mr Benn can understand that being locked up makes people sad but he finds it hard to know why the men all cry so much until he meets Smasher Lagru, the self-proclaimed boss of the prison, who explains that it is the greyness that gets everyone down so much. What can be done? Mr Benn comes up with an audacious plan and soon the prison is transformed into a place full of all colours of the rainbow. And everyone is very much happier. David McKee’s early work on the power of colour to transform life is perfect for all those who now love Elmer the patchwork elephant.
‘It must be fun to dress up and make people laugh’, muses Mr Benn at the beginning of this adventure, newly reissued by Andersen Press to mark 50 years of David McKee’s iconic, bowler-hatted hero. Inspired, by the thought, Mr Benn steps into that magical costume shop, picks out a red nose and emerges through a different door as a clown, with a his very own clown car to drive. A wonderful adventure follows, in which Mr Benn, with typical consideration and generosity, helps the circus folk when they find a bridge down. He meets an old friend too, ex-convict Smasher Lagru, and finds him a job as circus strongman. McKee’s illustrations are superb, full of movement and humour, bold blocks of colour and dizzying perspectives dazzling to the eye. Mr Benn looks as fresh as he did when he first began his extraordinary adventures.
People of my generation will still remember the special thrill of watching the magical Mr Benn TV series, how lovely that today’s young children can now get to know David McKee’s bowler-hatted character through these reissued picture books. Bowler hats may be rarer on our streets these days, but it’s just as exciting as it ever was to go with Mr Benn from his monochrome world, through the magical Fitting Room door in the fancy dress shop, into somewhere much more colourful. In this story, he is transformed into a knight and helps save a dragon who is losing his job as royal firelighter to a rather unscrupulous match maker. The story can be enjoyed on all sorts of levels by children and adults alike and the illustrations, of course, are sublime. Some of the spreads of Mr Benn, in full armour, leading the king and his knights out to bring home the dragon would fit right in to the Bayeux Tapestry, and are wonders of movement, humour, detail and perspective. A must-have picture book.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month March 2021 | Best-selling author/ illustrator David McKee created Mr Benn his iconic character over 50 years ago and he has been a star of books and TV programmes ever since. Mr Benn’s Big Game is a classic David McKee story which quietly but firmly promotes good – this time not shooting wild animals. When Mr Benn goes to his favourite dressing up shop he tries on a khaki uniform and is transported to the jungle where he is in charge of a group of very keen big game hunters. Can Mr Benn stop them shooting the wonderful animals in the jungle? Making use of a very cunning plan – and in the best tradition of children’s stories – he does just that! Fans of Elmer will love this earlier introduction to some familiar loveable elephants.
Two Can Toucan, a contemporary creation myth by the inimitable David McKee, is full of quiet, surreal humour, one of the things that always sets his picture books apart. The story explains how the toucan got not just his name but his colourful plumage. At the story’s opening, our hero is all black and because he has no name, is laughed at by the other animals. Unhappy, he leaves the jungle to walk to the city where he finds a job carrying cans of paint – you can probably guess where the story is going. Carrying two cans is no problem, but he overreaches trying to carry three. With bright new paint-stained feathers he returns to the jungle and is welcomed back by his old friends. As he shares his adventures with them, they all laugh together – readers will join them. Though written over fifty years ago, the story has lost none of its appeal and McKee’s glorious jungle and cityscapes are as bold, vivid and fresh as if he’d painted them yesterday.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month November 2020 | Snowman, snow woman, snowperson? Best-selling illustrator David McKee gives the magic of building a someone out of snow a new twist in this witty, wintry picture book. Waking up to snow, Rupert tells his dad and then his mum that he is going to build a snowman. Why snowman, they ask? Why not a snowperson? But when Kate says she’s building a snow woman both mum and dad think that’s great. But what can Rupert and Kate do when the snow man and snow woman run off together? Luckily they come up with a great solution in is gently non-sexist story.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month September 2020 | Loveable Elmer is back for a new adventure in the land of the elephants. And, as ever, he keeps one step ahead of his friends! Elmer sets off on a long exploring walk with his cousin Wilbur and three other elephants. Elmer’s exploring leads him to finding an amazing palace hidden in the jungle. It’s full of amazing mosaics and wall paintings, it has a huge hall full, a wealth of statues and several fountains. While Elmer and Wilbur admire it all the other elephants are busy playing some very secret games. What are they up to? And who will find the Lost Treasure?? David McKee’s elephants are as delightful and full of character as ever. Visit our Elmer the Elephant feature to find out more about the Elmer books!
June 2020 Book of the Month | It’s hard to believe that Not Now Bernard is 40 years old. It’s as fresh and funny as the day it was first written and, best of all, just as shocking. In fact, it doesn’t matter how many times you read it, the end is always an absolute thrill and if that’s not genius, I don’t know what is. In the story Bernard tries unsuccessfully to get his parents’ attention, getting the same reply each time: ‘Not now, Bernard’. Even when he’s eaten by a monster, his parents don’t notice! Parents have to feel uncomfortable, while children themselves are alive to the fact that the monster is probably Bernard (and that we’ve all got a bit of monster in us). One of the greatest books for children ever written.
What fun to discover colours with Elmer, everyone’s favourite patchwork elephant! Each colourful page in this new book shows off a different colour and is packed too with Elmer’s friends and the his distinctive jungle flora. There are so many things to spot and count including eight bright little teddy bears. There’s no-one quite like Elmer and this is a lovely first-learning book.
It’s hard to believe that this is the 27th Elmer storybook as it feels as fresh as one of the brilliantly coloured flowers in his jungle. The elephants are all set to play a trick on Elmer on his birthday. They tell the other animals to act as if they’ve forgotten, nobody is to wish him ‘Happy Birthday’. Lion thinks it’s a funny kind of joke, and lots of the other animals seem confused but the elephants are so excited they don’t stop to listen. Perhaps they should though, because the surprise doesn’t work as they’d hoped. Even so, everyone is laughing and enjoying cake on the last page. David McKee never fails to entertain and surprise, and Elmer and his many friends remain top company for the very young.