Raschka's wordless picture book, told through watercolor, ink and gouache, recounts the saga of a white and gray terrier whose beloved red ball is stolen by a bigger, brown poodle. The ball bursts and Daisy's spirit seems to break with it, until the poodle returns with a blue ball that leaves the pets and their owners equally content.
Raschka said "Daisy'' was inspired by his son, who at age 4 was devastated when his yellow ball broke during a scrape with a neighbor. The author said he began thinking of "those first feelings of losing something beloved'' and knowing you can't get it back. For the story, he changed the main character from a boy to a dog.
"When you're a picture book illustrator, your readers are often 3 or 4 years old, and you don't want the drawing to be upsetting in itself,'' Raschka said during a phone interview from the offices of Schwartz & Wade Books, an imprint of Random House Inc. "By having an animal, there's some distance, and yet there is still a connection.''
Other winners were announced Monday, including John Corey Whaley's "Where Things Come Back,'' which received the Michael L. Printz Award for best young adult literature; and Kadir Nelson's "Heart and Soul,'' winner of the Coretta Scott King Book Award for best African-American story. The King prize for best illustrated book was given to Shane W. Evans' "Underground: Finding the Light to Freedom.''
Jesmyn Ward's "Salvage the Bones,'' winner last fall of the National Book Award for fiction, was among 10 recipients of the Alex Award for adult books that appeal to teens. Others cited included Erin Morgenstern's acclaimed debut "The Night Circus'' and David Levithan's "The Lover's Dictionary.'' Bill Wright's "Putting Makeup on the Fat Boy'' received the Stonewall award for "exceptional merit relating to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender experience.''
The Pura Belpre award for best Latino author went to Guadalupe Garcia McCall for "Under the Mesquite,'' while the Belpre illustration prize was given to Duncan Tonatiuh for "Diego Rivera: His World and Ours.'' Translator Laura Wilkerson's work on Bibi Dumon Tak's "Soldier Bear,'' originally published in Dutch in 2008, won her the Mildred L. Batchelder Award for best book translated from a foreign language.
Susan Cooper, known for her fantasy series "The Dark is Rising,'' won the Margaret A. Edwards award for lifetime achievement in young adult literature.