Elmer the patchwork elephant celebrates Christmas and the arrival of Papa Red, the elephantine equivalent of Santa Claus, in this quirky explanation of the origin of Christmas gifts.
As the little elephants in Elmer’s herd eagerly anticipate Papa Red’s annual visit, Elmer takes them off to look for a Christmas tree so the older elephants can “prepare the presents.” Elmer and his charges return with a huge tree to decorate, which they plan to return after use. The whole herd and all their other animal pals decorate the tree together, piling a heap of wrapped presents underneath. On Christmas Eve, the young elephants hide behind tall plants (though readers can see their eyes and trunks peeking out), and they observe Papa Red’s arrival in his sleigh (drawn by moose instead of reindeer). Elmer helps Papa Red load all the presents into the sleigh for delivery, and the story concludes with Elmer leaving one package from Papa Red next to each sleeping elephant. McKee’s cheerful gouache illustrations in double-page-spread format have their usual naïve charm with flattened perspective and profile portraits of Elmer’s animal friends.
Simple enough for younger preschoolers, but charming enough to please Elmer’s devoted fans of any age. (Picture book. 3-6)