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Andersen Press to publish David McKee’s Elmer and the White Bear

Andersen Press will publish further Elmer books from David McKee posthumously, with the first title Elmer and the White Bear unveiled at Bologna International Children’s Book Fair and publishing in 2025.

The manuscript and early sketches for the book – plus a further title to come in future – were found by his children among David’s effects after his death in 2022.

David had early discussions on both with his editor at Andersen Press; these notes and manuscript were found alongside rough thumbnail illustrations for the books, but no colour artwork had been started.

David’s long-term friend and colleague Marysia Milewski, a fellow artist and gallery owner from Vence in France, was approached and agreed to complete the book using David’s sketches.

David’s children boxed up the paper he usually used to paint Elmer, along with his pencils and paints, and delivered them to Marysia so she could use all of David’s materials to create the art for the book in David’s style.

The resulting art honours David’s style and the inclusive nature of his Elmer books, ensuring the character lives on for future generations.

Elmer and the White Bear is described as a ‘gentle’ introduction to the impact of climate change for young children, written in the hope that it would start some important discussions.

When a mysterious white bear appears in the jungle, Elmer and Wilbur are keen to hear his story. The bear has come all the way from the frozen north, floating on a tiny scrap of melting ice, and now he can’t find his way back. Luckily, Elmer and Wilbur hatch a plan.

“At Andersen Press, our mission is to ensure that David McKee’s legacy lives on and that his books, which champion friendship and kindness, are enjoyed by future generations as they have been for over 35 years,” commented Alice Milner-Watt, picture book commissioning editor at Andersen Press. “David felt strongly that young children live in a changing world now more than ever, and in our early conversations about the environmental themes in this book, he expressed how important it was for him that the story of the white bear would start conversations about climate change with them, without patronising or trying to offer a particular solution.”

A further book written by David McKee based on his manuscript and early sketches, with illustrations by Marysia Milewski will follow, with details to come at a future date.

Andersen Press’ Elmer 35 campaign has had a strong start to 2024, with over 110,000 copies of the World Book Day £1 book Elmer and the Patchwork Story sold through Nielsen bookscan, plus Elmer appearing as Alzheimer’s Research UK mascot at the London Landmark Half Marathon on 7 April and Elmer’s Big Parade Blackpool launching 35 Elmer sculptures on the streets of the seaside resort from 13 April.

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