All children can relate to the sinking feeling of loss that comes around when you lose a toy that you love. As little ones, we form strong attachments to our favorite inanimate objects. In A Ball For Daisy, Author Chris Raschka uses lovely illustrations created with ink, watercolor, and gouache to wordlessly tell the story of what it’s like to lose something that means a lot to you-and gain something that’s even better.
What Happens in ‘A Ball for Daisy’?
Without any words, we are introduced to Daisy, a shaggy adorable pup who has a red ball that she obviously absolutely adores. She plays constantly with the ball, rolling over and tossing it in the air, throwing it onto the couch and then snuggling up beside it to take a nap, and of course, dragging it along with her when her owner takes her for a walk. But much to Daisy’s chagrin, another dog at the park seems to enjoy her ball too, and without much concept of sharing, runs off with it. Before Daisy has a chance to even catch up, her beloved ball is popped. She noses it, nudges it, tries to bring it back to life by playing with it, but in the end her owner simply tosses it in the trash. Now Daisy grieves. She curls up on the couch alone and turns her back to the outside world. At this point, we all know how miserable Daisy is feeling, she sulks even while her owner tenderly comforts her with gentle pets, and takes her on another walk to the park. There she gets a surprise that lifts her spirits-and ours right along with hers.
All thick squiggly lines and sweet doggy expressions, Chris Raschka did a beautiful job with depicting Daisy. The splashes and blending of watercolor to create the whimsical backgrounds for each page drive home the depth of emotion that Daisy feels, getting dark and stormy colored when she’s upset, lighter and brighter when she’s happy. Obviously for a wordless picture book, the illustrations need to be outstanding to properly convey the emotion in the story, and Raschka’s are. He used a combination of ink, watercolor, and gouache to portray his protagonist and her story. Gouache (if you’re wondering as I was when I first heard it) is essentially a medium that is the same as watercolor, but modified to be opaque. The ratio of pigment to water is much, much higher than in watercolor, and a white pigment (chalk) is added, making it heavier. This style plays a huge part in how Daisy’s feelings are expressed because it easier to reflect emotions with than just watercolor.
Was ‘A Ball for Daisy’ Deserving Of Its Caldecott?
For the most part, yes, it was an outstandingly illustrated children’s book. The illustrations are without a doubt beautiful, unique, and captivating, and you can’t help but fall in love with the book. It’s accuracy in portraying depth of emotion, and a scenario children can closely relate too is superb. There was some fuss made over it though that I think was more adults making a big deal out of pictures then children. To receive a Caldecott, one of the criteria states that a book must display understanding of a child’s abilities, understandings, and appreciations, and I felt that some of the appreciation for the artwork was more on the adult end of things. There were times where a young child might be confused, and while they might enjoy the pictures, they don’t necessarily know the value of the artwork as adults do. That aside, I think this book did deserve its medal. Children who read this book will catch the emotions portrayed, and be able to relate deeply to this wonderfully touching book without any words.