With ‘GOLD,’ children’s book author David Shannon explores an ancient story with a new twist

Children’s author and illustrator David Shannon is back with his first foray into Greek mythology and the rhyming tale, “GOLD!”

A retelling of the classic tale of King Midas, the story follows Maximillian Midas, a young boy with love in his heart for one thing, and one thing only, “GOLD!” Golden statues, fountains, trinkets of all kinds and a castle to top it off.

But no matter how high his treasure, Maxie realizes that the more lonely and greedy he becomes, the less gold belongs to him and the more it belongs to him.

“I wanted to write a story about greed,” said Shannon, who grew up in Spokane. “A greedy person is not a happy person – there are lots of stories about how greed hurts everyone around you, but I wanted to focus on how greed also isolates the greedy person. “

Midas’ story is so pervasive, Shannon explained, that he barely remembers the first time he heard it.

“I’m always jotting down ideas,” he says. “And one day it occurred to me.”

The structure of the work is similar to some of Shannon’s longer form works like “A Bad Case of Stripes”. But unlike his other works, Shannon decided to write the story in verse.

“Maybe it’s because so many words rhyme with gold,” he said, but the rhymes almost seemed to write themselves.

Either way, the structure helped maintain a lighter atmosphere in a story that otherwise might have felt too heavy for its intended audience.

Shannon became well known as a children’s author and illustration for books like his “David” series – the first of which, “No, David!” was a Caldecott Honor Book in 1999 – along with “Good Boy, Fergus” and “Duck on a Bike”.

Working as a writer and illustrator brings its own set of challenges, Shannon explained. With the script nearly finished, he set to work on the illustrations. And while the gold is a burden for Maxie, painting it on nearly every page proved just as difficult for Shannon.

“The gold is so shiny and reflective and since there’s so much in the book, it took a long time,” he said, explaining how he had to experiment with his oil paints. along the way, creating different effects. “I didn’t want it to look cold and metallic as much as I wanted it to look rather attractive.”

It was important, he explained, that it looked fun at first.

“He’s got a castle on a golden mountain, he’s rolling in his gold – at that time he’s having fun,” Shannon said. “But what he doesn’t realize is that it invades his soul.”

Through the story, Shannon hopes to highlight where true happiness lies.

“True happiness comes from friends and family, from enjoying life and being able to appreciate everything around you,” he said.

“Gold!” is available at Auntie’s Bookstore (402 W. Main Ave.) and online through Wishing Tree Books at wishingtreebookstore.com.

Grover Z. Barnes