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A Ball for Daisy

By Chris Raschka, Caldecott Medal Winner

About.com Rating 4 Star Rating


Cover art for A Ball for Daisy picture book by Chris Raschka

A Ball for Daisy by Chris Raschka, 2012 Caldecott Medal Winner

Random House


A Ball For Daisy is a a wordless picture book about a dog and her favorite toy. Chris Raschka received the 2012 Randolph Caldecott Medal for picture book illustration for his artwork for the book. Raschka created this story with his signature style of swirling and impressionistic illustrations especially for ages three to seven years.

The Story

Although A Ball for Daisy is a wordless picture book, the story of what is happening to Daisy and her favorite toy, a red ball, flows effortlessly as young children turn the pages. She happily rolls her ball, bounces her ball, chases her ball, sleeps with her ball, and even takes her ball to the park. Life is good for Daisy.

Unfortunately one day at the park a rambunctious and larger dog breaks Daisy’s beloved ball. Daisy tries to play with the flattened ball but it just isn’t possible. It seems life will never be the same for Daisy as she mopes and pouts around the house.

Her encouraging owner convinces Daisy to once again take a walk to the park. With a generous act of kindness things are made right with Daisy. Not only is she is no longer sullen and sad but Daisy has found a new friend.

Chris Raschka’s Illustrations

Since A Ball for Daisy is a wordless book, it is the ink, watercolor, and gouache illustrations by Chris Raschka that tell Daisy’s story. Using his recognizable style with simple and squiggly lines, the double spread title page conveys that the story revolves around Daisy. Her owner is sitting in the upper left corner with her face fading off the page while Daisy is large and center on the facing page. The subdued colors emphasize the importance of Daisy’s favorite toy, her bright red ball.

On several occasions (when Daisy is sleeping on the sofa, walking to the park, playing in the park, and playing with dog friend), Raschka uses four horizontal illustrations on one page to show the passage of time. He frames these sequences with a thin bar of color in white. The story has several full-page spreads; however, Raschka uses smaller pictures when Daisy plays with her red ball and again when she tries to play with her broken red ball.

The color scheme of the backdrop changes from yellow to purple to brown as Daisy struggles with the loss of her special toy. With subtle changes, Raschka is able to show vivid emotion that draws the reader in to Daisy’s feelings. At her happiest, Daisy’s tail and ears are up with curved lines showing back and forth movement.

After the ball pops, Daisy’s head droops with ears and tail that flops down displaying her sadness and disappointment. The plain, blue endpapers seem a questionable choice until readers follow Daisy’s return to the park where she once again meets the dog who broke her red ball with a new toy.

About Chris Raschka

Although Chris Raschka has a collection of more than 65 sketchbooks spanning 26 years, deciding to follow a career as an artist was a wrenching decision. Not only did he give up his spot at the University of Michigan Medical School but also a career as a professional viola player with a symphony orchestra due to tendonitis.

Although R and R: A Story about Two Alphabets (1990) was his first picture book, it was Charlie Parker Played Be Bop (1992) that brought him recognition, including a Notable Children’s Book citation from the American Library Association. Constructed like a jazz piece with a rhythmic text and a cadence of be bop, this book encouraged him to move forward with another project.

Yo, Yes! (1993), an interplay of only 34 words portraying a potential interracial conflict turned friendship, brought him his first Caldecott Honor. It is this innovative and often experimental style of Raschka’s that has resulted in His being awarded two Caldecott Medals, for books about children and their experiences: The Hello, Goodbye Window (2006) and A Ball for Daisy (2012). Enjoying walks along the Hudson River to his studio, Mr. Raschka lives in New York City with his wife, Lydie and his son, Ingo. (Sources: Raschka, Lydie, Chris Raschka: The Habits of an Artist, The Horn Book Magazine, July/August 2012, pp 26-31; Chris Raschka, Something about the Author, Volume 117, pp 150-56)

My Recommendation

Browsing the playful, watercolor illustrations of this thirty-two page picture book, A Ball for Daisy, children can easily “read” with their own words what is happening to Daisy and what she is feeling. Even young children three to seven years of age will be able to relate to Daisy’s feelings of a lost or broken toy. The story provides an opportunity for parents to chat one-on-one about being responsible with the possessions of others, as well as the difficulty of sharing. Parents and teachers can encourage conversation with this wordless book: What do you think will happen next? Will Daisy go to the park again? How does Daisy feel in this picture? Don’t miss the opportunity to enjoy a playful romp with A Ball for Daisy and sit quietly in conversation with the young person in your life. (Schwartz & Wade Books, a division of Random House, 2011. ISBN: 9780375858611)

More Recommended Caldecott Medal Winners and Honor Books, From Your Guide Elizabeth Kennedy

Another award-winning wordless picture book is The Lion and the Mouse for which Jerry Pinkney received the 2010 Randolph Caldecott Medal. Erin E. Stead received the 2011 Caldecott Medal for her picture book A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip C. Stead.

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