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About the Author
Antje Damm is a celebrated children's writer and illustrator. She has worked as an architect and has published over a dozen children's books. Damm's The Visitor was a New York Times Best Illustrated Book 2018.
"In this German import (by way of New Zealand), a lonely, fearful woman named Elise lives alone in her tiny, gray house until a sky-blue paper airplane and a boy named Emil bring changes to her life. Elise is a middle-aged woman wearing a checked dress and apron, with her hair worn in tightly coiled buns on the sides of her head. She is afraid of everything and never leaves her home. One day a paper airplane floats in through an open window, followed the next day by a little boy looking for his plane. Emil is a friendly child interested in Elise's full bookshelves, and before long she is reading stories to him, playing hide-and-seek, and fixing him a snack, before sending him home with a hopeful 'Bye for now, Emil.' That night Elise works at making her own paper airplane, with a wordless final page showing a smiling Elise with her eyes closed, a completed sky-blue airplane on the table in front of her. The intriguing illustrations are photographs of a 3-D diorama of the home's interior with flat, cartoon-style cutouts of the two characters, whose skin tones are the white of the artist's paper. Emil brings light and color into Elise's world, with the palette changing from grays to brilliant hues. A touching, understated story about the transformative power of friendship."--Kirkus Reviews--Journal
"Panophobic Elise never goes out, night or day, and she likes her house to be perfectly tidy. One day, upon cracking a window to let in fresh air, a paper airplane lands in her living room, opening the door to Elise's whole world. This appealing picture book draws in readers right from the endpapers, which are like peeking into a perfectly detailed black-and-white diorama. The illustrations remain in monochrome, capturing a bit of sadness and loneliness until the arrival of the blue paper airplane. With it comes in swaths of colors, brightening the pages as well as the mood of the story and its protagonist. The owner of the paper airplane is an outgoing young boy, eager to retrieve his toy. He is forthright with Elise and finds his way into her home and her heart. A full and heartwarming story about the power of companionship that will delight young readers and have older ones wanting to learn more about Elise's path through life. The illustrations are three-dimensional with the contrast of paper cutouts for characters and other design elements throughout. VERDICT Simply gorgeous in pictures and words, this is a terrific read-aloud selection and a great story to spark conversation."--starred, School Library Journal--Journal
"To make the book's spreads, German artist Damm (Waiting for Goliath) draws the tale's characters, then places their cutout figures in a small, tidy abode with furnishings crafted of paper and board, and photographs them inside. Apron-wearing Elise likes to clean her home, but she doesn't like to leave it: 'Elise was scared of everything. . . ./ So she never went out./ Night or day.' A blue paper airplane sails in through the window of the dimly lit, grayscale house, and the following morning, there's a knock at the door. It's a boy with a red cap and bare feet. 'I'm here for my plane, ' he says. 'And can I visit your bathroom? It's urgent!' As the boy heads upstairs, he leaves a trail of color behind him, and readers sense that things are going to change. Sure enough, the boy and Elise begin a most unexpected friendship. Elise's house fills with color--warm yellow, fuchsia, and red--and we see her smile. Damm emphasizes how much people need others to care about, and readers will enjoy going back over the pages to see how the colors change."--Publishers Weekly--Journal
"A shut-in, neatnik woman named Elise lives alone and shuns company, until 'something unbelievable' happens -- a paper plane flies in her window, followed by a boy knocking at her door. Warm connection ensues. What makes it striking is Damm's nifty, expressive art, photographs of dioramas and cutout painted figures. Dressed in red and yellow, the boy, Emil, brings color to Elise's gray world. She makes her own paper plane, and the dazzling last page needs no words: We see inside her now colorful home, but she's not there."--The New York Times Book Review--Newspaper