Chris Raschka's A Ball for Daisy
Children's book review by Steve Barancik
A Dog's Joy, Loss, then Joy
Chris Raschka scores his second Caldecott Medal with this wordless tale of a little black and white dog and her red ball.
Daisy loves her ball. She chases it around on her own. She'll fetch it when someone throws it.
She cuddles and sleeps with it. Review continues.
We get some foreboding of what it would mean to lose the ball when Daisy's owner - a young girl - takes her to the park and the ball bounces over a fence, out of Daisy's reach. Daisy looks worried. But everything turns right again when the girl simply goes and gets it herself.
Right, but only for a moment. Because now a little brown dog has intercepted Daisy's ball. Daisy isn't thrilled with that turn of events, but then it turns out that the little brown dog has sharper teeth than Daisy.
At first, Daisy doesn't really understand what's happened. She looks at her ball. She nudges it. She shakes it. Only slowly does she come to realize that it is really no longer the thing she loved. She howls forlornly.
(The little girl, of course, realizes immediately. In one sweet moment in a book full of them, we see her sprinting toward Daisy after the ball pops.
What follows is clearly mourning. Daisy mopes on her couch. The girl offers comfort as best she can. The next time the two go to the park, Raschka manages to convey with a few simple brushstrokes exactly what Daisy's thinking:
I'll go, but don't expect me to have fun.
But then...a surprise! The other dog and owner (another little girl) are waiting. And guess what? They've brought Daisy a brand new blue ball. Can you say, "Happily ever after"?
Raschka scored his first Caldecott Medal with 2006's The Hello, Goodbye Window, written by Norman Juster, after having won a Caldecott Honor for his nearly wordless Yo! Yes? Once again he captures the power of the simplest emotions with the broadest strokes of ink and watercolor.
Children will easily identify with Daisy, her attachment to something simple, and the depth of her loss in the moment. They also won't be able to help taking comfort from the parent figures - in the form of little girls - who know exactly how to make simple things right.
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