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A Ball for Daisy

A Ball for DaisyThe Caldecott Committee tends to like wordless books. In my year, we gave an honor book award to The Red Book. In the past ten years, four winners were wordless or nearly wordless. Plus Raschka is a past winner. I have no doubt this will be on the current committee’s list for discussion.

Do you all know this book? The plot is simple: dog loves ball, ball pops, dog gets new ball. Raschka, whose art and book concepts can sometimes be difficult to parse (Waffle, Simple Gifts), is doggily direct here. Daisy’s joy and sorrow are shown magnified through her body language and by impressionistic splotches of watery color. Less significant aspects of Daisy’s life are painted faintly (her “owner,” details of the park she plays in) while everything that is important to her (the ball, the couch, another dog at the park) get fully saturated colors. Daisy herself is rendered with light gray outlines, but her eyes, nose, ears, tail, and toes are dark, punctuating the pages that show repeated images of her.

Throughout, Raschka sense of rhythm is flawless. Repetitions of the red ball dot the playful spreads while Daisy’s post-ball depression is shown with a static repetition of the green couch, the dog sinking deeper and deeper into its cushions. Look at how simply Raschka draws this. He just shows less and less of Daisy until in the fourth panel all we see is ears, a bit of back, and a sagging tail.

Because Rashcka’s style is so gestural (if I may use that term outside of human figure drawing) and his brush strokes so loose, it’s sometimes hard to see exactly where Daisy’s mouth or eyes are. But there is never any question of the emotion being depicted.

This book has grown on me with repeated readings. I’ve been a fan of Raschka’s since the beginning, but A Ball for Daisy gets better each time I read it. In my opinion, it depicts the emotional lives of children in a way that is both engaging and profound.

What’s YOUR opinion?


Lolly Robinson About Lolly Robinson

Lolly Robinson is the creative director for The Horn Book, Inc. She has degrees in studio art and children's literature and teaches children's literature at Harvard University's Graduate School of Education. She has served on the Caldecott and Boston Globe-Horn Book Award committees and blogs for Calling Caldecott and Lolly's Classroom on this site.



  1. Not only do I really love this one, but it is so exquisitely, emotionally true. I believe it is some of the best art I have seen this year: every line is alive with meaning and feeling, and you can grasp it right away and get more each time you look.

  2. I love that you highlight Raschka’s beautiful sense of rhythm; in words and images it is one of the aspects of his work that unstitches me most.

  3. I think Raschka’s drawings are beautiful, and Daisy could easily join Toulouse-Lautrec’s managerie. What Lolly wrote about Daisy’s eyes and mouth being sometimes difficult to spot is true and actually a positive thing. I wonder if the red balls on the cover are just space savers for the Caldecott stickers.

  4. I completely agree that the more you read this book the more you like it but I freely admit that at the first reading I loved it; my review of this book is a reflection of my deepest appreciation for the art of Chris Raschka. I can’t wait to locate my copy so I can look at the things you highlighted that I did not, the dog sinking lower into the cushions. Raschka certainly has a gift at rendering exactly what his characters are thinking or feeling, canine or human. I also thought his artwork for the Albert Bitterman book, Fortune Cookies, this year was delightful.

  5. Of course I meant space holders, not savers!

  6. I not generally a fan of Raschka’s art, but here I feel like it is spot on. The looseness of his style just fits with a story of a dog’s world. I’ll be keeping my eye on this one for Caldecott as well.

  7. I love this book.
    1. It is about a dog. I love dogs.
    2. It is Chris Raschka. I love Chris Raschka.
    3. I got to see him talk about his work on A Ball for Daisy at a conference; he was struggling to find a way to tell this story. The result is so profound: joy, tragedy, friendship, love.
    4. And dogs. I love dogs.

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