Having stumbled upon a career in children's illustration, David Shannon became the mastermind behind more than 30 picture books over three decades. His 1999 bestseller, No, David! landed Shannon a Calcadott Honor as well as global fandom when the series ensued.
We caught up with Shannon at this year's China International Children's Book Fair to delve further into the life of this well-known author, and find out about his latest book, Grow up, David!
What made you decide to become an illustrator?
I'd always wanted to become an artist, ever since I could hold a crayon. I was reading The Hobbit and I drew a lot of Bilbo Baggins and Gandalf. Dr. Seuss and N.C. Wyett (illustrator for The Boy's King Arthur) were also great inspirations to me. I was an editorial illustrator in New York, and somebody saw a piece I had done for the New York Times. They followed up with a children's book manuscript, and I thought I’d do one [book] for fun. When people started sending me more [manuscripts], I realized I'd always liked illustrating great stories.
Was it easy to define your own style of illustration?
The subject matter for newspapers was very serious. But the more I did children's books, the more I branched out. The palette got brighter and more colorful, and I guess I was probably getting happier, too!
How did the story for No, David! come to life?
No, David! is based on a book [I drew] when I was a little kid. When I first tried to redo the book, I drew it realistically, and that completely fell flat. It lost its personality. Then I tried to draw like a five-year-old, and that's when it started to have a life. I want readers to picture their own brother or their own mom when they read these books.
Can you tell us about your latest book Grow Up, David! which was released in August 2018?
I wasn't going to do another No, David! book. The last one I did was about eight years ago, and I wanted to keep moving on. It wasn't easy. For another David book, I would have to switch back to acrylics – and I hadn't touched acrylics in years! Not to mention I had to read the old David books to relearn the techniques.
What is the new book about?
It's based on the relationship I have with my brother. The little brother bothers the big brother, and the big brother torments the little brother. They go back and forth until it boils over, and they end up in corners – opposite corners!
How has becoming a parent changed the way you look at No, David!?
My daughter Emma really keeps me close to the ground. She's not all that interested! At least she pretends not to be, just to irritate me. There's a book called Bizzy Mizz Lizzie that came out recently, which is based on how busy and overscheduled her life is. I tried to tell her to take it easy, you know, "You're just a kid!" When I finished the book, I asked her to read it, and she said, "Oh sorry Dad, I don't have time." But like anybody's kid, she likes what I do.
[Cover image via Amazon.cn]
To find out more about David Shannon and his works, visit www.nodavidshannon.com. To see a list of David Shannon books on Amazon.cn, scan the QR code.