The Caldecott Medal is awarded annually to the children’s book illustrator who’s recently published book represents the best art the industry. Celebrated illustrator Chris Raschka has the distinguished of winning this award twice, as well as illustrating a Caldecott Honor Book, which are just some of his many accolades, including a nomination for the prestigious Hans Christen Anderson Medal. Join us today as we take a look at Raschka’s career in our Caldecott Winning Illustrators Series:
Who is Chris Raschka?
Chris Raschka was born in Pennsylvania and raised in Chicago, IL. His parents were history professors, and he spent part of his childhood in his mother’s native Austria. He studied biology at St. Olaf College in Minnesota, though after graduation, he worked illustrating editorial cartoons at a newspaper. After deciding to commit to illustration fully, he moved his family to New York to pursue a career illustrating children's books. He began his career illustrating for other people before releasing his first children's book, Charlie Parker Played Be Bop, written and illustrated by himself in 1992. His second book, Yo! Yes? was named a Caldecott Honor book in 1994. Twelve years later, he earned the Caldecott Medal for his work on The Hello Goodbye Window by Norton Juster, the author of The Phantom Tollbooth. He earned it again in 2012 for his book, A Ball for Daisy. Throughout his career, he has illustrated dozens of books for himself and other writers.
Where else have you heard of Raschka?
Raschka has contributed illustrations by books from numerous notable authors. He illustrated Another Important Book by legendary children’s author Margaret Wise Brown, author of the timeless classic, Goodnight, Moon. He also illustrated Happy to Be Nappy, a children’s book by bell hooks, an author and feminist best known for her scholarly work on the intersectionality of race, gender, and capitalism.
Examining Raschka’s Artistic Style
Raschka’s early work, as seen in Charlie Parker Played Be Bop, was extremely realistic. This work in particular reproduces a close likeness to the famous jazz musician. However, while the main character of this book is rendered realistically, the depictions of the feeling of music hints at the primary way Raschka chose to illustrate going further. Known for his color and lively designs, Raschka’s work embodies the movement, play and creativity of childhood. Whether his playful animal characters like Daisy the Dog or the colorful fingerpaint quality to books like The Hello Goodbye Window, Raschka’s work seems designed to appeal to children.
A Ball for Daisy
Rascha’s book about an adorable dog named Daisy, A Ball for Daisy, earned the 2012 Caldecott Medal. This wordless picture book was designed to be enjoyed by children even by children who can’t yet read. Daisy, a charming white dog, is devastated when she accidentally destroys her favorite ball, though it ends happily when her family replaces it. Fans of Daisy should also check out Daisy Gets Lost, which focuses on a misadventure that occurs when she chases a squirrel. This book also features a happy ending when she is reunited with her owner.
The Hello Goodbye Window by Norton Juster
Raschka earned the 2006 Caldecot Medal for his work on The Hello Goodbye Window by Norton Juster. Reminiscent of childhood paintings, this book tells the story of a young girl on her visits to her grandparents’ house.
Charlie Parker Played Be Bop
Inspired by his love of jazz music, Rascka’s first book both written and illustrated by himself, Charlie Parker Played Be Bop focuses on saxophonist and composer Charlie Parker. This book showcases Rascka’s skill at both realistic illustration and more playful, imaginative design, making it ideal for collectors.