Friday, 31 August 2018

ReadItDaddy's Second Picture Book of the Week - Week Ending 31st August 2018: "The Visitor" by Antje Damm (Gecko Press)

Our second Picture Book of the week pulls off the neat trick of instantly feeling like a well-loved children's classic, even though it hasn't been around that long...
"The Visitor" by Antje Damm follows a pretty popular theme at the moment, that of the interaction between children and the older generations.

We've seen the bare bones of this story idea used in many children's books, but none finer than this gloriously atmospheric book that tells the tale of Elise.

Elise is an old lady who lives by herself. She's houseproud but doesn't like to go outside much, and as she gets older she leads an increasingly lonely existence.

Until one day something sails through her window.

A paper plane.

"No need for that nonsense here!" says Elise before putting the plane on the fire. But shortly there's a knock at the door that completely changes Elise's life.

A young boy stands there. A young boy who has lost a plane - but as we eventually see in the story that delicately unfolds, he finds a friend.

Antje's scenes are so perfect, reminiscent of classic old 1970s animated shows that I loved as a kid, where everything seemed to be made out of paper, and animated. Here Antje's perfect dioramas depict the subtle shift in mood from monochrome to a world of colour as Elise begins to thrive on her young friend's company, missing him when he leaves.

It's such a beautifully described relationship, and the book is so full of atmosphere and delight as colour slowly returns to Elise's life and she has something to look forward to.

The message here is important though, kids will understand just how important it is to cherish our older generation. Soak up their stories, share their experiences, check in on them to make sure they're OK and maybe make a friend just like Elise.

Lovely this.

C's best bit: When Elise makes her own gift to remind her of her new friend.

Daddy's favourite bit: Beautifully realised scenes, a wonderful and touching story with a solid heart of gold. This is picture-book making at its best.

"The Visitor" by Antje Damm is out now, published by Gecko Press (kindly supplied for review).