This Year’s Caldecott Winner – A Ball for Daisy

Wordless stories are winning awards this year – from best picture Oscar for “The Artist” to Chris Raschka’s Caldecott picture book – A Ball For Daisy. In Raschka’s story a lively little white dog (who reminds me of one in my life) chases a big red ball, his favorite toy. He even takes a nap with it (his substitute blankie).

When a playful larger dog sinks his teeth into the ball and pops it at the dog park, our dog hero is soulfully bereft – he can’t even sleep anymore. Eventually, the bully dog’s owner produces another ball for our hero – this one blue – and all is well again. The last frame has him peacefully napping, snuggled up to his new blue ball.

The expressions Raschka draws on the hero will be familiar to anyone who owns a dog; when the red ball pops, he morphs from wonder, to shaking the deflated rubber, to howling, to finally bereavement – in 8 frames with no words.

Whether you read the book as a statement on loss and recovery, or just enjoy Raschka’s emotion-laden drawings, Daisy will become a new favorite character.

Westminster Dog Show

Bubba

If you are a dog lover, you already know that the Westminster Kennel Club Annual Dog Show opens today – 136 years of showing off purebreds.   Although seven categories offer a ribbon for the best in the group of sporting, hound, toy, working, terrier, nonsporting, herding – only one dog will win the coveted “best in show.”

Josh Dean follows purebred Australian shepherd, Jack, in Show Dog: The Charmed Life and Trying Times of a Near-Perfect Purebred, as he competes from Wildwood to Westminster.  The pictures and drawings are the best part of the book, but Dean does offer an insider’s view to dog shows – 11,000 now sanctioned by the American Kennel Club.  As a former “Men’s Journal” editor, Dean uses a reporting style to base the book on his observations.

My favorite – the golden retriever – has never won the coveted award, but I still think they are the best.