Elmer’s Birthday

Elmer’s Birthday
David McKee
Andersen Press

After three decades it’s safe to say that Elmer the elephant has become an institution in nurseries, primary schools and families.

This story celebrates his birthday or does it?

The group of elephants he passes on his regular morning walk certainly think he has a birthday the following day and decide to play a joke on him. ‘… let’s act as if we’ve forgotten it …’ they decide intending to produce a celebratory cake at the end of the afternoon.

Off they go to inform his friends and family of their intentions.
The trouble is those elephants don’t pay heed to the responses they receive, dismissing all their ‘buts’ as insignificant.

Indeed not a single animal they speak to is impressed with their trick, but the mention of cake keeps them quiet.

Next morning when he takes his walk, Elmer’s slightly puzzled at the way his friends greet him. Throughout the day the other animals seem to be avoiding him until the end of the afternoon when he’s suddenly confronted by all his friends and family.

Yes, the trick backfires but who can resist the enormous patchwork confection that his fellow pachyderms have baked for all to share, birthday or no birthday.

“ … the cake is a winner,” concludes Elmer before they all tuck in; and a winner is what little ones will think about this shared joke of a tale. I’m pretty sure they’ll ask for second helpings too.

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