Raschka, Chris. 2011. A BALL FOR DAISY. Ill. by Chris Raschka. New York, NY: Schwartz & Wade Books. ISBN 978-0-375-85861-1
This beautifully illustrated and wordless picture book tells the story of Daisy, a small white dog with a love for walks and toy balls. This 2012 Caldecott Award winning tale starts out with Daisy and her owner walking to the park to play fetch with Daisy’s beloved red ball. Alas, Daisy and her red ball have several heartbreaking mishaps at the park. First, the ball gets stuck behind a fence where Daisy’s owner must rescue it. Next, a rambunctious brown dog tries to join in the fun only to pop Daisy’s beloved toy. Raschka perfectly captures the devastation and loss of a child losing their favorite toy in the illustration of the next 9-10 pages.
However, all hope is not lost. Daisy and her owner return to the park to meet up with the rambunctious brown dog, her owner, and a new blue ball for Daisy! Soon, Daisy and the brown dog become new friends as they play happily at the park with the new ball. Daisy returns home with her beloved new blue ball to curl up happily on the couch and fall contentedly asleep.
Wordless picture books tell a tale through art instead of words. Art in children’s literature uses “line, color, texture, and composition work together to create art, much as character, setting, plot, theme, and style work together to create literature” (Vardell 2008, 53). Raschka executes this use of art to create a story perfectly in his picture book A BALL FOR DAISY. The heart wrenching feeling of loss when a favorite toy, blanket, or treasured stuffed animal is lost is translated into grayed, brown, or muted purple background colors and undefined lines. The elated feelings of happiness when finding a new ball and new childhood friend are translated into brilliant blue, yellow, and green tones (Horning 2012). As a 2011 Kirkus review states, Raschka is able to “map an inner life rich in heights of joy and depths of sorrow” through his illustrative storytelling (Kirkus 2011).
A Horn Book review of this book calls Raschka’s use of composition “noteworthy for both its artistry and its child appeal” (Horning 2012). Raschka uses several sequential illustrations on a single page to convey action and plot. Conversely, he uses single-page, large, and colorful illustrations during the high emotion or focal parts of Daisy’s tale. While reading this story, these large colorful illustration seem to encourage the reader to pause and reflect on Daisy’s emotions and dilemma. Horning’s review points out that this author and illustrator “varies the line to echo her emotions” (Horning 2012). Raschka masterfully conveys emotions in his illustrations by utilizing “bold, sure lines when Daisy is happy; shaky, squiggly lines when she is upset” (Horning 2012).
This picture book would be a perfect choice for young children learning about the value of friendship and forgiveness. According to the book CHILDREN’S LITERATURE IN ACTION: A LIBRARIAN’S GUIDE, wordless picture stories “challenge children to use their imaginations to create or narrate their own text” (Vardell 2008, 46). A BALL FOR DAISY is an ideal book to teach a young child to identify emotions by having them vocalize what they believe Daisy is feeling at each pivotal moment in the story. Moreover, having a child put verbal words to this illustrative story assists them with “storytelling, writing captions, developing oral fluency, assessing visual literacy, and developing ESL vocabulary skills” (Vardell 2008, 46).
I believe that the story and sentiments in the book are emotional experiences most children (and adults) can identify with. I personally was transported back in memory to my own childhood experiences while reading Daisy’s tale. In my humble opinion, A BALL FOR DAISY is a must read picture book for all young children.
What to Read Next:
Faller, Regis. 2006. THE ADVENTURES OF POLO. Ill. By Regis Faller. New York, NY: Roaring Book Press. ISBN 978-1596431607
Raschka, Chris. 2013. DAISY GETS LOST. Ill. by Chris Raschka. New York, NY: Schwartz & Wade Books. ISBN 978-0449817414
Horning, Kathleen T. 2012. “Reviews of the 2012 Caldecott Winners.” The Horn Book. January 3. Accessed January 19, 2014. http://www.hbook.com/2012/01/choosing-books/reviews/reviews-of-the-2012-caldecott-winners/.
Kirkus. 2011. “Kirkus Reviews: A BALL FOR DAISY.” May 10. Accessed January 19, 2014. https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/chris-raschka/ball-for-daisy/.
Raschka, Chris. 2011. A BALL FOR DAISY. New York, NY: Schwartz & Wade Books.
Vardell, Sylvia M. 2008. CHILDREN’S LITERATURE IN ACTION: A LIBRARIAN’S GUIDE. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited.