A couple of months ago, I walked into my favorite kind bookstores on the Upper West Side of NYC, ones with creaky floors! After walking down the creaky stairs, I reached the beautiful children’s book section. After a couple of minutes perusing, I discovered this book, The Visitor by Antje Damm, which immediately captivated me. As a read through the book, I loved the illustration and the way the colors changed as the main character’s (Elise) emotions became more positive and happier.
About the book
The book begins with the scene of Elise sitting in her dark hour, alone and “scared of everything”. This included spiders, people and even trees! She never went out day or night. One day, after tidying up her very neat house, a paper airplane flew in the window. How did Elise feel? She was scared and couldn’t believe that something strange had entered her house. That night, she was too scared to sleep. The next morning, she heard a knock. “No one ever knocked at her door, Why would they?” Elise answered the door and opened the door. In walked a young boy who said “I am here for my plane. Can I use your bathroom?” Elise didn’t know what to say so she let the young boy use the bathroom. After he uses the bathroom, Elise’s life changes. Her and the boy begin talking, playing, reading and then eating a snack together.
How the colors change….
As you read the book with your child, notice how much brighter the colors become in the book. What does this represent? Ask your child, “What color is sad?”, “What color is lonely?” and “What color is happiness?” The story and illustration are beautiful in the way that the character is transformed both emotionally and with the color changes in the book. Elise begins the story as a scared, anxious and lonely woman. At the end of the book, she is a happier person who feels contentment with companionship.
Learning and Language Tips
The Visitor is full of language and learning opportunities! As you begin the book, use the think aloud strategies to describe and define Elsie’s feelings. Why is Elsie so scared of the paper airplanes? Why is she so scared when the boy arrives? How does Elsie’s facial expressions and colors change as the story continues. There is so much to take away from this book for both a parent and a child. Use discussion questions to elicit conversations about specific feelings such as lonely, scared, anxious, happy, connected, etc.
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