by Judy Newman with Alexie Basil
My children, John and Rebecca, are 29 and 31, respectively. Which is mathematically impossible since, in my mind’s eye, I am younger than they are.
I am a creature of habit and a tradition lover, which definitely helps me support this time-warp fantasy.
I have lived in the same house in Montclair, New Jersey, for 25 years. It is affectionately called “The Book House” by my neighbors for two reasons: first, because of the large number of Scholastic Book Clubs test-order Book Boxes that arrive on my front steps every month; second, because for the past 20 years, I have given out books instead of candy on Halloween.
My dad still lives in my childhood home in Newton, Massachusetts, so when I go back to visit, I still visualize myself and my childhood there.
I have worked at the same company—Scholastic—for the past two and a half decades. Every morning, when I come to our offices and work alongside many of the same people as I have for years (and amazing new people as well!), I feel just like I did in 1993 when I first joined the company.
And just to help along my fantasy that I am still the same vintage as I was when I started my career in publishing, I still work every day in the office next door to David Vozar—whom I met on my very first workday when I first moved to New York City.
When we first started working in publishing, David and I attended many publishing industry events together. Recently, the night of September 13 felt like a flashback as we—along with many of our staff—attended the Publishers Weekly Star Watch party, at which Scholastic staff Preeti Chhibber (Assistant Director of Young Adult Books and Special Projects) and Emily Heddleson (Senior Manager, Library and Educational Marketing) were honored.
During the party, David and I looked out at the crowd of publishing professionals in celebration mode and thought we recognized colleagues. But we soon realized that those “familiar faces” were, in fact, 30-year-olds who looked a lot like the people we used to party with when we were starting out.
It is super annoying to me when my friends and family—or anyone really—wax eloquent about the “good old days.” When we were kids, we used to make fun of our elders who talked about how they “had to walk four miles to go to school every day.…”
I don’t want to cling to the past. I love the present and I am excited about the future.
But in addition to fantasizing about my chronological age and imagining seeing old colleagues’ faces in the crowd, there are some things that are truly worth reminiscing about.
One of those is the day that Bonnie Verburg, Editor in Chief of Blue Sky Press at Scholastic, brought David Shannon’s as-yet-unpublished manuscript of No, David! to our editorial acquisitions meeting…22 years ago.
We knew it was magic when we saw it. We were all so excited to see this book come to life and be part of the team that got it out to kids and teachers and parents everywhere.
Since it was first published in 1998, millions of kids have loved—and identified with—No, David!, and David Vozar and I are no exception. David recalls:
“After reading No, David! I was transported back to my own childhood. Even though I was, by all accounts, not a child who needed a lot of discipline, I do remember my share of ‘no’s. Here are some of the ‘No, David!’s I remember the most fondly.…
“I used to love to take naps at all hours of the day.
“My parents were constantly kicking me outside to play. I always preferred to stay inside and watch old black-and-white movies.
“I used to constantly demand more paper for my various projects and drawings.
“And, at dinnertime, my mom was very strict about me eating all the food on my plate before I could leave the table. Luckily, I always had my hungry dog at my feet to help me out.”
For me, my mom and dad were cautious parents, and I was an adventurous kid who liked to push the envelope (maybe a little more than David Vozar). So I heard “no!” a lot.
Sometimes “no!” made sense to me, but a lot of the time it did not.
When I read No, David!, it reminded me of those sometimes-irrational rules of my childhood:
“No, Judy! You cannot go out to swim until one hour after eating lunch.”
“No, Judy! You cannot have a soda refill when we go out to eat.”
“No, Judy! You cannot shave your legs until seventh grade, and you cannot get contact lenses or slip-on shoes until high school.”
But one thing my parents never ever said “no” to was books.
I could—and did—read everything I came across. I loved the books I got from my Scholastic book orders, such as Homer Price and Henry and Ribsy and Blueberry Summer. I loved the Archie comic books I bought in the candy store in Holderness, New Hampshire. I loved autobiographies like Manchild in the Promised Land by Claude Brown and Sybil by Flora Rheta Schreiber—the adult books I took out from the Newton Public Library that were way over my head. And I enjoyed the New England setting of some of my favorite picture books, such as Make Way for Ducklings and Blueberries for Sal, along with all kinds of other classics.
When I think of classics, I think of books such as Little Women and The Secret Garden, published long before I was actually born. These are books I read and reread as a child, and which I now own—and give as gifts—in assorted collector’s editions.
So it is both thrilling—and challenging to my own fabricated narrative of agelessness—to come to terms with the fact that David Shannon’s brilliantly simple picture book, No, David!, published during my early days at Scholastic, has become a classic.
“David is a small, snaggle-toothed piehead whose mischief—for those who don’t have to clean up after him—is nothing short of exhilarating.” —Kirkus Reviews
I don’t know exactly what makes a book a classic. Obviously, it is a title that stands the test of time. A book that teachers and parents and students want to buy and check out from the library and read and listen to and reread over and over again. Possibly it is a story with characters that connect with readers across generations, reminding adults of their childhoods and making children realize they aren’t alone and are loved unconditionally.
Whatever the classic ingredients are, No, David! has them all!
Plus No, David!’s classic status is cemented by the fact that David Shannon’s brand-new picture book starring David, Grow Up, David!, was an instant bestseller when it was published in August.
It is a real joy to celebrate the 20th anniversary of David Shannon’s modern and timeless and beloved and cherished classic, No, David!, as our Dollar Deal this week.
Your class will love: seeing Jamie get into all kinds of hijinks in the Book Boys; checking out a speedy 10-second kid review by Sam S. in Book Talks; learning the importance of self-control in a fun classroom activity in Cooked Up from a Book; and hearing from the awesome David Shannon himself in Behind the Scenes!
I hope you take advantage of this 20th-anniversary Dollar Deal to get No, David! into the hands of as many young and old kids as you can find.
As always, I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to reach out anytime at: JNBlog@scholastic.com
This Book Is Available from Scholastic Book Clubs