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. (Picture book. 4-8)