David Shannon is the writer and illustrator behind the eponymous No, David! books. In this exclusive video interview with Reading Rockets, David Shannon talks about his love for bright colors, his distaste for lima beans, and where he gets the ideas for his books.
In the world of David Shannon books, anything can happen. Ducks can ride bikes and kids can get rainbow stripes instead of chicken pox. But not all of Shannon's books are pure fiction. For his 1999 Caldecott Honor book, No, David!, Shannon reached back into his own mischievous childhood for material. In all of his work, Shannon likes to keep the colors bright, the illustrations bold, and the stories entertaining. "I try to have fun when I'm making a book," he says. "I feel like if I have fun, that's going to come across. And whoever reads it is going to have fun, too."
David Shannon made his first book when he was only five. On orange paper, he drew pictures of himself doing the things that got him into trouble: sneaking into the cookie jar, jumping on the bed, and making too much noise. The only two words in the book were "No" and "David" — two words that he heard often and knew how to spell.
As a young boy, David also liked to draw pirates, baseball players, battle scenes, and characters from books. He pursued his artistic interests at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California. After graduating with a degree in fine arts, Shannon moved to New York City, where he worked for ten years as an editorial illustrator for adults. His work appeared in publications such as The New York Times, Rolling Stone, and Time.
When David Shannon first agreed to illustrate a children's book, he thought it would be a fun, one-time diversion. But after How Many Spots Does a Leopard Have? was published in 1992, editors sent him more and more manuscripts to illustrate. Eventually, Shannon began to write and illustrate his own stories, including the popular titles No, David!, Duck on a Bike, and A Bad Case of Stripes.
David Shannon lives in Los Angeles, California, with his wife and their young daughter, Emma, who enjoys reading her dad's books, inspiring new ones, and making books of her own.