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I absolutely adore reading - my love for books has had a huge impact on my life! I'm going to grad school to be a children's/YA librarian.

No, David

No, David! - David Shannon

Inspired by an autobiographical book the award-winning author created when he was a small child, here is the vivid tale of young David. All he hears from his mother as he breaks his mother's rules is "No, David!", "That's enough, David!", and "Settle down!" Children will find his outrageously bad behavior both funny and liberating as they see themselves in him. (source)

 

This semester, I'm taking a Resources for Children course for my MLIS program, and last week, this was one of the books that we read for class. I had encountered this book before, as my mom had read it to my siblings, but my reading level had advanced beyond this book when it was published, so it never really appealed to me as a kid.

 

There are definitely good elements to this picture book. The artwork is perfectly suited to the story - it's messy and chaotic, much like David himself. The colors are bright and appealing to young readers. Many young children will relate to the feeling of "never" being allowed to do anything "fun." I think that this book would appeal primarily to boys, as David is, as my mom would say, "all boy," but there are definitely girls who would relate to and enjoy the story as well. And of course, the ending, which shows that David's mommy loves him even with all of his mischievous behavior, is sweet.

 

Ultimately, however, this book still doesn't appeal to me. The main issue is that I've just never liked stories with a limited vocabulary. The majority of the book consists of variations of the simple sentence, "No, David!" ("No, David, no!," "David, no!," etc.). Obviously, for children who are just starting to learn how to read, this strategy can be very beneficial. But, for my taste, I prefer picture books with a bit more substance. Because the text is so simple, the story must be conveyed through pictures, and the pictures definitely do this job well, for which I commend Shannon - he did a great job with them. This style of storytelling is valid and works in certain cases; it's just not my favorite. I also don't like that, with the exception of the ending, the only interactions that David seems to have with his mother are negative - yes, he's mischievous, but most of the trouble that David gets into could only have happened if he were unsupervised. His mother seems to only appear in order to discipline him. I would hope that this is not the experience that Shannon had as a child and I don't think that this is necessarily the image that he intends to portray in his book. However, the fact is, for many children, this is the reality, and I think that this story might resonate a bit too clearly. I think that Olivia by Ian Falconer (which we also read this week) portrays the intended scenario more effectively than Shannon's story does, and I'll be elaborating more on that in my review of that story.

 

Overall, I think that No, David! is a picture book that will be enjoyed by most children. It has great artwork and is, on the surface, amusing. While it's certainly possible that I'm reading a bit too much into the story, I don't like David's mother's parenting style and the blandness of the text just isn't to my taste. This story is fine and I know that it's beloved by many, but it's not my favorite.