Chris Raschka's A Ball for Daisy was given this year's Caldecott award for the best children's picture book of the last year. Once again (I'm getting to be a curmudgeon) I find the award-winner unworthy of the award.
If there is such a thing as a sentimental minimalist post-modern picture book, this is it. Daisy has a red ball, which she plays with and obviously loves. When at the park another dog plays too roughly and the ball deflates Daisy is bereft.
But when she goes again to the park the other dog has brought a blue ball to give to Daisy. You have here angst over the loss of something beloved and the sentimental return to joy at the replacement with something equivalent. The story reminds me of Job, who at the end of the story is given a new family and flock. As if they could replace what he has lost. Children do not "get over" heartbreaking loss. They become distracted by a new toy or a new puppy, but they do not, like Daisy, recover entirely from their sadness.
Publisher's Weekly gushes over the pictures, but I was not particularly impressed with them. A trained artist might understand the appeal, but I doubt children will. Raschka uses color to reflect moods: yellow for happiness, lavender and purple for sadness. (There's a brilliant new idea.)
The book is for children in preschool to grade 2.
2012 No 28