In this German import, originally published in 2015 by Antje Damm and translated by Sally-Ann Spencer, young readers meet the reclusive Elise. Likely agoraphobic, she is scared of many things, including people, and she doesn’t leave her compulsively-cleaned home. One day, when her open window allows for the entry of a paper airplane, it frightens her. With broom in hand, she sweeps the paper airplane into the fire.
The next morning, a young boy named Emil arrives to retrieve his plane, and the spark of a friendship is ignited. The boy stays to play, to hear a story (“It was a long time since Elise had read to anyone”), and to have a snack. “It’s fun at your house,” he tells Elise before exiting. After his visit, Elise is a changed person, and she even sits down to make her own paper airplane—one sure to serve as an invitation to her new friend.
In her delicate 3-D illustrations, rendered via paper vignettes, Damm uses color to capture the inner life of our introverted protagonist. In the opening spreads, as Elise sits despondingly at her kitchen table, no color can be found, save for a subtle yellow behind the windows. With each page turn, this yellow grows brighter, and when the boy enters her home, so do colors that eventually bloom throughout her small dwelling. In the final spread, the colors are bright; Elise’s cheeks are rosy and her heart is content.
A sweet, tender story of a friendship found.