The British writer and illustrator David McKee has died this Thursday in France at the age of 87 after a brief illness, as confirmed by sources from his editorial in the UK media. McKee was the author of the stories of Elmer, a colorful elephant inspired by the work of the Swiss painter Paul Klee. McKee made a series starring this elephant who feels different from the others and who, through numerous adventures, learns to love himself and not want to hide.
The character, who captivated millions of readers over the years, is characterized by his good humor and his joy. The first book in the series was published in 1968, but it was not until 1989 that the Andersen Press publisher picked it up and decided to make a series.
They have been published in Catalan on the Beascoa label with titles such as El meu primer Elmer, L’Elmer i el conte de bona nit, and L’Elmer és Únic. In all, McKee wrote and illustrated 29 Elmer stories, sold 10 million books, and was translated into 60 languages.
McKee was born in Tavistock, Devon, and studied Fine Art at Plymouth. He began to draw vignettes for newspapers and magazines until in 1976 the writer signed for the Andersen Press publishing house, where he created more than 50 books. His first children’s book was Two Can Toucan, about a bird that lives in the jungle and is completely black. His titles also include Not Now, Bernardo, published for the first time in 1980, and in Catalan by Kalandraka in 2019. The book talks about family isolation through a child who cannot get his parents to listen to him.
Later he published Two Monsters (Anaya), about two characters who live on opposite sides of a mountain and can’t agree on whether the day begins or ends. McKee is also the author of Blacks and Whites and The Sad Story of Veronica, among others. In his stories, McKee transferred his concern for inequalities and claimed inclusion, the celebration of difference, and friendship. In addition to his literary work, McKee worked in the field of children’s animation. He created the series Mr. Benn, which was based on a magical explorer and adventurer, had about thirty episodes, and was broadcast between 1971 and 1972.