Preschoolers and toddlers alike will understand where David, the little boy in David Shannon’s No, David! is coming from: he’s a little boy who just wants to have fun, whether it’s running down the street naked, causing a flood as he plays in the bathtub, picking his nose, or chewing his food with his mouth wide open. David’s mother is the only voice heard throughout the story, and what she has to say will also be very familiar to No David’s audience: “Come back here!” “No! No! No!” “Put your toys away!” “Stop that this instant!” When David ends up being punished for breaking a vase, though, Mom is also tells him “Yes, David. I love you!” The book, which received Caldecott Honors in 1999, reinforces to young listeners and readers – and parents – that no matter how much trouble you get into, and whether or not your parents get angry with you, they will always love you. David Shannon’s use of bright acrylics will attract readers and listeners alike, as will David’s exaggerated facial expressions and actions. There are very few words in the book, and the font is a large, handwritten font that makes for a fun and interactive read-aloud. Shannon’s illustrations give a hand-painted feel to the story and he makes David appear almost toylike, with a giant head and a wooden doll’s body, with an open mouth full of pointed teeth. Making a caricature of David adds a dose of fun to the story, moving No, David! away from the story of a naughty little boy and embracing the silly aspects of being a child. Preschoolers will identify with David, and toddlers will enjoy seeing what David will do next.
In addition to winning Caledecott Honors, No, David! is an ALA Notable Children’s book, a School Library Journal Best Book of the Year, and a Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books Blue Ribbon title. It was also on the New York Times Best Illustrated Book list.
No, David! is part of a David series by Shannon that includes David Goes to School, David Gets in Trouble, and It’s Christmas, David!. The Diaper David series of board books for younger readers also stars David and includes the titles David Smells!, Oh, David!, and Oops!
The book is perfect for a read-aloud, allowing audiences to put themselves in their caregiver’s place and call out “NO!” as David embarks on his next act of mischief. There could be a David-centric story time or a story time centered on following rules, with a quick game of Simon Says or Red Light, Green Light (space permitting).