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

08/04/2024 12:01:33

Manuscript and early sketches for 31st Elmer picture book uncovered by his family following David McKee’s death in 2022

Illustrations completed by Marysia Milewski, a close friend and colleague of David McKee, based on his sketches

Elmer and the White Bear unveiled for the first time to partners and publishers at Bologna International Children’s Book Fair

Announcement comes in the midst of Andersen Press’ Elmer 35 celebrations – with over 110,000 copies of the World Book Day £1 book Elmer and the Patchwork Story sold with new partnerships and activations to come

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 amongst 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.

For David’s children and Andersen Press we want to honour and continue David’s work and legacy, and after much discussion 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 his beloved character lives on for future generations.

About Elmer and the White Bear

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! But what caused the white bear’s icy home to melt in the first place? That’s a much more puzzling question.

A gentle introduction to the impact of climate change for the youngest of children, written by David McKee in the hope that it would start some very important discussions.

On the book, David’s children Chuck, Brett and Chantal have collectively said, "We're really excited that Andersen Press are able to bring Elmer and the White Bear to the world, and continue to share dad's stories. This one was obviously an important book for Dad, he was concerned to get the environmental message right, and being illustrated by his dear friend Marysia. It's a beautiful story that has been gorgeously and sensitively completed."

Marysia Milewski, the illustrator of Elmer and the White Bear adds, “I am so grateful and deeply moved to have had the special honour of illustrating Elmer and the White Bear. I am humbled by the trust and confidence in my illustrations shown by all in the Andersen team, but above all, I treasure my close and enduring friendship with David McKee. What an extraordinary journey it has been walking in David’s footsteps! May Elmer continue to resonate with tomorrow's children the way he has with all of ours.”

Alice Milner-Watt, Andersen Press’ picture book commissioning editor adds, “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. 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. So we were incredibly moved when we discovered his full text and sketches among his effects, and we knew immediately that we had to honour his intentions and finish this important book on his behalf. It has been immensely rewarding to work with David’s long-time friend and talented artist Marysia Milewski, alongside his children Brett, Chuck and Chantel, to ensure that Elmer and the White Bear will reach the hands of children all around the world.”

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 an incredible 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 7th April and Elmer’s Big Parade Blackpool launching 35 Elmer sculptures on the streets of the seaside resort from 13th April.

Elmer and the White Bear by David McKee, with illustrations from Marysia Milewski will be published in 2025, rights are available in foreign rights markets at Bologna International Children’s Book Fair

For more information please contact Paul Black, PR and Brand Director at Andersen Press: