Books by David McKee

ELMER AND THE BIRTHDAY QUAKE by David McKee
CHILDREN'S
Released: April 1, 2013

"Fun for fans of elephants in general and Elmer in particular. (Picture book. 3-6)"
When a birthday bash becomes a cliffhanger—literally—it's Super El to the rescue. Read full book review >
ELMER'S FIRST COUNTING BOOK by David McKee
CHILDREN'S
Released: April 1, 2012

"There is nothing special here. (Board book. 6 mos.-2)"
Elmer the elephant lumbers through this nondescript counting book. Read full book review >
DENVER by David McKee
by David McKee, illustrated by David McKee
CHILDREN'S
Released: Nov. 1, 2011

"Ultimately there's no child-friendly story to enjoy, and neither the pro-status quo/anti-individualism message nor the unflattering portrait of the middle and working class as foolish and profligate is likely to resonate with U.S. readers. (Picture book. 6-8)"
An utterly odd paean to trickle-down economics, British-style, this adult-centric examination of wealth, generosity and greed won't garner much interest. Read full book review >
SIX MEN by David McKee
by David McKee, illustrated by David McKee
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 1, 2011

"Truly a worthwhile lesson for adults and kids alike. (Picture book. 7-10)"
A parable of war for young readers—and old ones, too. Read full book review >
ELMER'S SPECIAL DAY by David McKee
CHILDREN'S
Released: May 9, 2011

The patchwork pachyderm again finds a way to wage peace. Read full book review >
THE KING OF QUIZZICAL ISLAND by Gordon Snell
ADVENTURE
Released: Nov. 1, 2009

It seems that the only one with an inquiring mind on Quizzical Island is the King. In spite of all the doom-and-gloom predictions of his advisors, he is determined to sail to the edge of the world just to see what he can find. It's all about curiosity and determination to seek answers to large questions. The tale is told in verse, employing simple rhymes in four-line stanzas, but Snell also delights the reader with some lovely, sophisticated words and phrases. The king sails on his "singular ship" to a "higgledy-piggeldy shore," and has adventures galore in which he must use ingenuity to solve dilemmas and find his way home, ready to tackle yet another "perilous plan." In McKee's clever, intricate pen-and-ink illustrations, only the king is depicted in watercolors—as it should be, for he is indeed unique. Originally published in England in 1978, it now makes its most welcome debut in the United States. Marvelous fun. (Picture book. 5-10)Read full book review >
CHARLOTTE’S PIGGY BANK by David McKee
CHILDREN'S
Released: Dec. 1, 2004

First US edition of a sketchy, surreal episode from the creator of Elmer the patchwork elephant, featuring busy, wildly canted street scenes filled with camera-wielding tourists and stage business. Young Charlotte gets a polka-dotted piggy bank that tells her that if she saves enough, she'll get a wish. She dutifully holds on to each coin she gets from dog-walking, car-washing, and selling off old toys until the bank is full—whereupon it tricks her into wishing that it had wings and flies off, commenting, "Life can be very hard." They say that virtue is its own reward, but young readers are more likely to be drawn by the art's invitation to people-watch than by this rather disagreeable lesson. (Picture book. 6-8)Read full book review >
THE CONQUERORS by David McKee
CHILDREN'S
Released: Dec. 1, 2004

In a naïve but thought-provoking episode, the residents of a small country give an invading general and his armies such a warm welcome that the soldiers are all soon blending in, enjoying the local food, singing the local songs, even helping with chores. Furious, the general sends that army home, and marches in another one—and not only are the results the same, but when he at last returns home, his own previously conformist people are playing new games, singing new songs, and eating different food. So who conquered whom? Illustrated with big, simple, colorful scenes featuring plenty of smiling faces, and troops in rather Gallic uniforms, this brief tale makes a worthy new entry in the "waging peace" genre. (Picture book. 6-8)Read full book review >
PRINCE PETER AND THE TEDDY BEAR by David McKee
CHILDREN'S
Released: Aug. 19, 1997

From McKee (Zebra's Hiccups, 1993, etc.), the tale of the profound effects a simple hug can bestow. For each of the seven days leading up to Prince Peter's birthday, the king and queen ask him what he'd like for a present: a silver sword, perhaps, or a suit of armor. To each suggestion Prince Peter offers a respectful counter-suggestion: ``I'd like a teddy bear.'' When they relent, Prince Peter gets his teddy, but it is made of solid gold. How can one cuddle something so hard and cold? Prince Peter learns that he can, indeed, cuddle it and that there are a couple of other hard and cold creatures—the king and queen—who might benefit from a cuddle. McKee's text is nicely cadenced and lends itself to reading out loud. The illustrations are drenched in color, patterned and winsomely textured. (Picture book. 3-6) Read full book review >
OUT OF THE BLUE by Hiawyn Oram
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 11, 1993

From red to violet, with the usual extras, Oram comes up with a dozen or so poems for each hue, grouped across several spreads with McKee's lively illustrations featuring appropriate colors and cleverly incorporating characters and text. The poems elaborate twists on familiar phrases (``Two Redheads Are Better Than One'') or go off on tangents from well-known maxims. ``Red Giants and Red Dwarfs,'' ``Song of the Carnivore,'' and ``Embarrassment'' round out a group that includes ``Red Tape'' and ``Red Herring''; violet wins the prize for verbal variety with ``lilac,'' ``puce,'' ``lavender,'' ``mauve,'' and more, including ``Mulberry Bush,'' one of several traditional inclusions. The conception effectively celebrates the richness and variety of English, especially in this colorful vein. The verse is a bit uneven; it can lapse into doggerel or the commonplace, but more often it's amusingly deft. An inviting book, with enough comical surprises, satirical insights, and flashes of lyricism to keep readers reading. (Poetry/Picture book. 5-10) Read full book review >
ZEBRA'S HICCUPS by David McKee
ANIMALS
Released: Feb. 23, 1993

Dapper zebra is far too dignified to follow his friends' advice for getting rid of his hiccups—drinking water upside down simply isn't his style. But when the hiccups somehow move his stripes into just a few broad bands, he decides to try their embarrassing remedies. Nothing seems to work, though crocodile's method (``...do a headstand...Put the ball between your legs. Now, sing!'') finally makes Zebra unbend enough to get the giggles; the hiccups finally vanish after Zebra's friends douse him in cold water—causing a sneeze that reconstitutes his stripes. And he knows just how to cure this cold.... It's all pretty silly, but the subject is of perennial interest and its lighthearted treatment here is sure to tickle funny bones— especially with the help of McKee's rich, bright colors, bold designs, and amusingly caricatured animals. Try this when someone really does have the hiccups. (Picture book. 4-7) Read full book review >
WHO'S A CLEVER BABY? by David McKee
Released: March 22, 1989

As in David Lloyd's Duck (1988), the baby here persists, in spite of Grandma's best efforts, in calling all animals by the same name—in this case, "dog." But McKee offers a less affectionate rendition of this early power struggle than Lloyd did, who depicted it as an important, misunderstood learning process. As they tour their neighborhood, Grandma gets more and more frantic in her attempts to cajole: "See the statue? See strong Samson silently struggling with Simon, the serious stone lion. Say 'lion,' Baby." Combined with the cartoonlike illustrations showing a dumpy, middle-aged grandma and her self-possessed grandchild, these alliterative tirades hold some humor, especially as they lead up to Baby's mischievous triumph: finally confronted with a dog, he says "Cat." But since there's no real development of the idea here, the book goes on too long. An acceptable additional story. Read full book review >