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Denver by David McKee

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Creator of the bestselling Elmer and Not Now Bernard, David McKee has come up with a thought-provoking story about being happy with your lot. Denver is very rich and very philanthropic. He is kind and generous to the villagers and everyone loves him for it. But money is not really important to him. He just wants to paint. When a stranger tells the villagers that Denver has too much and they should have more, everything changes – but not for the better. David McKee uses different perspectives in brilliantly imaginative ways to tell this moving and entertaining story.


Denver by David McKee

Denver is rich - very, very rich. Everyone in the village loves him for his kindness and generosity. But one day a stranger arrives, who breeds discontent by telling the villagers it isn't fair for Denver to have so much more than they do. When Denver hears what has happened, he divides his money equally between everyone. He moves to a new village, where he lives happily and is better appreciated, but for the old villagers life just is not the same without him.

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Review of ‘Denver’ by Books for Keeps [3 stars]

The stars given above are, in this instance, for the illustrations, which are superb as one would expect from McKee. Full of his expressive people (and animals) with lots of flat colour and interesting perspectives, they are jolly and wonderful. However, this reviewer found some problems with the parable in the text. Denver is ‘very, very rich’, and he uses his riches to make the village people happy. He hires them to work in his big house, he gives out school prizes, and at Christmas he plays Santa. Everyone loves him. But one day a worm enters this paradise in the form of a stranger dressed in black. He sows discontent amongst the villagers: ‘Why should Denver have so much money and you so little?’ he asks. When Denver hears the village gossip, he generously sells up all he has and parcels it out amongst his neighbours. He goes off to paint – his favourite pastime, and in the process becomes prosperous again. His old friends, the villagers, meanwhile spend their money and become discontented once more. Being content with what one has is a good thing, but in this story the ‘content’ seems to be of the ‘rich man in his castle, the poor man at his gate’ variety. Is this a tad out-of-date in our world?

About the Author

David McKee

David McKee was born in Devon and studied at Plymouth Art College. In the early part of his career, McKee regularly drew and sold humorous drawings to magazines and newspapers such as The Times Educational Supplement, Punch and the Reader’s Digest. David McKee has writen and illustrated over 50 picture books for Andersen Press and has penned a number of children’s classics including King Rollo, Mr Benn, Not Now Bernard and Elmer the Patchwork Elephant. David McKee loves to paint and now lives in the South of France but regularly visits London.

One of the World Book Day 2015 Authors David McKee is one of the best known illustrators of picture books, having created acknowledged modern classics such as Not Now, Bernard, Elmer the Patchwork Elephant, and Mr Benn, Gladiator. His books are published in many languages throughout the world, and many of them have been adapted for television. He was born in Devon and now divides his time between the South of France and London.

Have you seen Elmer’s Photo Patchwork, an innovative activity-based app that encourages creativity and fun? Elmer the Patchwork Elephant is an elephant who stands out from the herd, and Elmer’s app is different too. It doesn’t keep children glued to the screen, it makes them look up, look around and get inspired by the world. The only limit is their imagination. By using an iPad or iPhone’s camera to take photos of interesting colours and textures, kids can add them to an elephant’s patchwork pattern. Aimed at children aged 3+. Elmer’s Photo Patchwork app is available for £1.99 from the App Store for iPad and iPhone. Find out more at and view the app preview video here.

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Book Info

Publication date

1st April 2010


David McKee

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Author's Website


Andersen Press Ltd


32 pages


Picture books



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