Book Review 2 – A Ball for Daisy
This New York Times Bestseller and New York Times Best Illustrated Book relates a story about love and loss as only Chris Rashcka can tell it. Any child who has ever had a beloved toy break will relate to Daisy’s anguish when her favorite ball is destroyed by a bigger dog. In the tradition of his nearly wordless picture book Yo! Yes?, Caldecott Medalist Chris Raschka explores in pictures the joy and sadness that having a special toy can bring. Raschka’s signature swirling, impressionistic illustrations and his affectionate story will particularly appeal to young dog lovers and teachers and parents who have children dealing with the loss of something special.
Raschka, C. (2011). A ball for Daisy. New York: Schwartz & Wade Books.
I loved this book and it will be a purchased item for my home library. The book has a very clear beginning, problem, solution, and ending. It is also a very happy ending, something that I love to see in a book like this. I felt that Chris Raschka does a fantastic job showing how the dog feels through simple pictures. The emotion is such that when Daisy feels happy, I felt happy, and when Daisy felt sad I felt sad. I read it to my kids and they were without words, eyes wide, during the reading of the book. Especially the part where the ball is popped. There were no smiles. However, in the end when Daisy goes to the park and is sad, but the other dog brings a new ball, suddenly I felt so happy for the dog. It is strange that not only during the story but even writing this review I get those little happy tears that well up in the corner of my eyes just thinking about how happy Daisy felt when she got the new ball. It has such a fantastic ending with Daisy falling asleep with the new ball next to her, an image of happiness that Raschka does powerfully. Not only did Daisy get a new ball, but a friend as well. No wonder this book won the 2012 Caldecott award.
Horning, K. T. (2011). A ball for Daisy. Horn Book Magazine 87(5). p. 77.
The wordless story begins on the title page, where we see a scruffy little blackand-white dog about to be given a big red ball. It’s clear from the start that Daisy loves her new toy. After playing with it inside, she cuddles up with the ball on the sofa and contentedly falls asleep. The real drama begins with a trip to the park, where Daisy and her little-girl owner play catch and have a moment of panic when the ball goes over a fence and has to be rescued. All goes well until another dog shows up, joins in the play, and pops the ball. It’s a long walk home with gloomy Daisy, and the subsequent nap on the couch is lonely. In fact, the two contrasting double-page spreads of Daisy napping, with the ball and without it, show the ingenious artistry of Raschka, who communicates so much emotion through her posture. Throughout, Raschka uses broad strokes of gray and black paint to outline the dog, and varies the line to echo her emotions: bold, sure lines when Daisy is happy; shaky, squiggly lines when she is upset. Background watercolor washes also reflect Daisy’s mood, going from bright yellows and greens to somber purples and browns. Raschka employs a series of horizontal frames to show sequential action, interspersed with occasional single paintings to show pivotal moments, such as the moment near the end of the book when Daisy gets a brand-new ball, this time a blue one, from the owner of the dog who destroyed her first one. It’s a satisfying conclusion to a story that is noteworthy for both its artistry and its child appeal.
This book has can be used to show how powerful a book can be and tell a great story without even having any words on the page. Kids are able to feel the emotions of Daisy simply by looking at the pictures. It can also be used to show how things can be lost and that even while Daisy is happy, in the end good things can happen. Despite losing her ball, she received a new one and was just as happy as in the beginning. It also can be flipped to think about how the other dog must have felt and how as a person you can make things right after doing something that may have hurt another.