The feature is accompanied by illustrations from acclaimed violinist and children’s book illlustrator, Chris Raschka (author of the darkly humorous Arlene Sardine), and includes poems by Carl Sandburg, John Ashbery, and Richard Brautigan, amongst others.
Regarding Eileen Myles’ poem called “Uppity,” Snicket comments, “’Uppity’ refers to someone who acts as if they are more important than they are, as in the sentence ‘Is it uppity of Lemony Snicket, who is not a poet and knows very little about poetry, to edit his own poetry portfolio?’” We’ll leave it up to you to decide.
Photo: Daniel Handler, Mr. Snicket’s official representative, by Tausif Noor
Take a gander at the 2012 Caldecott winner: A Ball for Daisy, by Chris Raschka.
To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t as super-crazy about this book as the Caldecott committee apparently is. Yah, I get that the illustrations pack a punch with just a few choice brush strokes. And yes, the story is indeed touching. But, I dunno, I just couldn’t get that worked up about it.
That was before I read it to my kid. (I say “read” but I really mean “look at the pictures and talk through the story,” since it’s a pure picture book.) It’d been sitting around the house for exactly two weeks and six days. I know it was that long because it was due back to the library the very next day. Of course, once I revealed that the book would be disappearing back into the stacks, my kid’s level of interest went from zero to ten. And so we decided to read it together at bedtime.
The plot in a nutshell: Daisy the dog has a red ball that she loves. Another dog she meets at the park breaks her ball, and Daisy is bereft. She grieves for the red ball, but is happy when the owner of the other dog brings Daisy a new ball.
So, there we are, going through the book, and we’re get to the part where Daisy’s ball breaks and has to be thrown away and, lo and behold, I hear sniffles. No kidding, sniffles. And a quivering lower lip.
Suddenly, I started to feel the impact of the story, too. I realized that losing a favorite toy could very well be a kid’s first experience of true and deep loss. Or, maybe it’s that Daisy’s red ball is such a tangible expression of loss. After all, when a person dies, we make a point of remembering that person, keeping their memory alive, and saying that they’re still with us in some way. But not Daisy’s ball. It breaks. And then it’s gone. The end.
Fortunately for me and every other parent reading A Ball for Daisy, the story has a happy ending, with Daisy getting a new blue ball. My kid’s sniffles were gone, but I know the experience stuck with him because he woke us up early the next morning saying he was thinking about Daisy and it had made him sad. At the same time, he also said it was “a reallllly good book.”
In terms of life lessons, I liked that Daisy’s new ball isn’t exactly the same as her old one. Because a lot of times, things can’t be exactly replaced, and that can be okay. I also liked that Daisy was allowed to really embrace her grief for awhile. It seems like we’re so often afraid of sadness, but wrapping yourself up in it is sometimes the only way to get through it.
So, okay Caldecott committee. I’m not 100% sure if I totally agree with you on this one. But, hey, r.e.s.p.e.c.t.
For the current issue of Poetry, Lemony Snicket has picked Poems Written for Adults That Children Might Nevertheless Enjoy and the Caldecott-winning Chris Raschka has supplied illustrations.
Starting to read something, such as a portfolio, is like opening a door, so I thought it would be interesting to start with two poems about doors written by two very different poets. Maram al-Massri is a Syrian woman who now lives in the city of Paris, France. Carl Sandburg is an American man who doesn’t live anywhere, due to death.
A Ball For Daisy - An Illustrated Picture Book By Chris Raschka:
The winner of the 2012 Randolph Caldecott Medal, A Ball For Daisy tells the story about love and loss in a way that only Chris Raschka and his beautiful paintwork could tell it. Throughout the book we explore the joy that a new toy can bring, which children easily relate to, and the devastation caused when that certain toy breaks or is broken by someone else.
The picture book market is approached in a different way by Chris Raschka, as it is littered with cartoonist impressions of characters and events, whilst Raschka relates to his audience with a suggestive, colourful journey with paint. He portrays the narrative in such a loose way, both children and parents are asked to use their imagination in order to communicate with the semiotic language that he uses throughout A Ball For Daisy.
Raschka’s identifiable swirling paint strokes, and impressionistic style tells an emotional, affectionate story that any child will be able to connect with - especially children with dogs, or children that are trying to deal with a loss of one of their favourite things.
To buy A Ball For Daisy, or to find out more, click here.
Publisher/Copyright: Schwartz & Wade Books: New York (2011)
Genre: Realistic Fiction Format: Wordless Picture Book
Awards: Randolph Caldecott Medal, 2012 Winner
New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Books, 2011
Summary: A dog named Daisy is as happy as can be while playing with her red ball. This wordless picture book shares the story of how Daisy’s ball is ruined by another dog and she is left utterly depressed without it. However, the next day she returns to place where her ball was popped and meets a new dog and a new ball. She couldn’t be happier when she gets to take her new blue ball home.
Descriptions of Illustrations: Wonderfully simple but expressive ink, watercolor, and gouache painting grace the pages of this wordless book with panels that tell the story of Daisy and her ball.
Personal Response: I really enjoy reading the story through the illustrations in this book. The dog’s emotional responses are interesting to see play out without accompanying text. I thought it was a simple and fun picture book.
Classroom Connection: Wordless books are great for building comprehension because you have to deconstruct the images to decipher the story. This award winning book should be in a classroom because of the quality of the illustrations and the fun that can be had when sharing it.