By Chris Raschka
Caldecott Medal Winner
New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Book of the Year
School Library Journal Best Book of the Year
Horn Book Fanfare
A Ball for Daisy is a wordless picture book full of simple yet expressive illustrations telling a tale of love and loss, and showing a wonderful lesson in sharing and forgiveness.
Wordless picture books can often be a challenge to “read” with a child, but Mr. Raschka’s illustrations are so full of life and the use of color so clearly conveys the emotions that Daisy experiences there really is no need for words. The fun with this book is actually the lack of words and the opportunity to help co-create the story with your young reader and have your own version of Daisy and her favorite toy.
If you haven’t noticed, we are dog lovers. Big, small, young, old, we love them all (we have 4 of our own). Perhaps you’ve noticed our fondness for dog books now that Daisy has joined our collection along with The Stray Dog and McDuff and the Baby. Dogs seem to be a very popular subject for picture books, as there are several more books we would like to feature that star dogs, including The Adventures of Taxi Dog, Harry the Dirty Dog, and Oh No, George!
That being said A Ball for Daisy is not just for dog lovers. The story has such universal appeal that the title character could just as easily be a child and the message of the book would not be altered in any way. A Ball for Daisy is a book for everyone. Read and enjoy!
In this Issue
Inspired by Daisy’s favorite toy (and a previous activity using a potato), this activity is sure to generate an abundance of enthusiasm and smiles. There is no need to explain to your young reader that while a brilliant masterpiece is being created, a science lesson is also going on. Try tilting the box higher and lower and comment on how it affects the speed of the ball. What ‘s the formula for that? Oh yes: Curiosity+Exploration=FUN!
Rolling Ball Masterpiece
- Balls in a variety of sizes and with a variety of textured surfaces. We used a tennis ball, a ping pong ball, a smooth rubber ball and put rubber bands on it, a golf ball, and a cat toy ball.
- Large cardboard box
- Containers to hold paint
How to Do It
- Place a large sheet of paper in the bottom of the box.
- Squirt paint in the bottom of a container and roll a ball in it.
- Place the paint-covered ball in the box and tilt the box to make the roll.
- Repeat the process with the other balls, using a variety of paint colors.
Why We Like It
- Using a large cardboard box adds an extra element of fun and movement to the activity. The pattern the ball will travel is less controllable than with a smaller box and this makes for lots of surprises and giggles.
- Incorporating the use of different angles to make the balls roll at different speeds is an early exploration of physics.
This week's recipe was inspired by Daisy's favorite toy (her ball), and one of a child's favorite finger foods: meatballs! You might have noticed a general lack of meat-based recipes on Off the Shelf, as both the authors are vegetarians!
You'll never miss the meat with this recipe, which combines sweet potatoes, carrots, and your favorite greens, held together with homemade breadcrumbs. They have a slight taste of stuffing, which is always good in my book!
Making the recipe with your young reader provides so many opportunities for using the senses and developing fine-motor skills, such as mashing the sweet potatoes and tearing the greens. As always, let young readers do as much as possible! It won't be perfect: messes will be made, things will be spilled, sweet potato might make its way into your hair, but that’s part of the experience and delight of cooking!
Daisy's Veggie Balls
- 3 small sweet potatoes
- 1/2 of a medium onion
- 1 cup greens (we used spinach)
- 1 carrot (no need to peel)
- 2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons nuts (we used pecans) (optional)
- 2 eggs
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 4 large slices whole wheat bread
To make cooking with your young readers more fun and less stressful, complete these tasks before your little chef is in the kitchen.
- Cook sweet potatoes, either in whole (pierced with a fork a few times) in the oven or microwave, or cubed and boiled, until very tender. Allow to cool completely.
- Toast bread slices until medium brown in a toaster.
- Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Measure 2 cups sweet potato flesh and place in a large bowl. Have young readers "mash" sweet potato, with hands or a wooden spoon. It doesn't have to be perfectly smooth, just easily mixable.
- While young reader is mashing, finely chop onion.
- Have young reader tear greens into very small pieces. If they are still big, just run your knife through them a few times.
- While young reader is tearing greens, shred carrot and add to the sweet potatoes.
- Heat oil in a medium saucepan. Saute chopped onion until soft. Add greens and stir until wilted.
- To the bowl with the mashed sweet potato and shredded carrot, add nuts, eggs, soy sauce and stir to combine. Add cooked onions and greens and stir well.
- Have young reader tear toasted bread slices into pieces, and add to the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade. Process into bread crumbs.
- Stir bread crumbs into veggie mixture until mixture is no longer wet.
- Form into 2 inch balls and place on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Bake for 50 minutes, until dark golden brown and cooked through.
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