Since he was a child, Dave O’Neill ’01 has spent his days drawing cartoons on napkins. Today, he has built a reputation as a successful children’s book illustrator, with his fifth book, The Bourbon Street Band Is Back, released in September 2011.
O’Neill’s books—created in collaboration with his longtime friend and author Ed Shankman—each focus on a travel theme. The books use vivid colors and rhyming text to engage children in the stories while also introducing them to such locales as Boston, Cape Cod, Vermont, Maine, and most recently, New Orleans.
“Our books are really just about fun. We try to weave in as much about the area that we’re talking about as we can without making it boring,” O’Neill says. “Kids are really smart. They know when they’re being taught something. So we try to make the books as big and bright and colorful as possible.”
The first book, The Boston Balloonies, was published in 2008. Over the next few years, the duo continued their collaboration with the publication of I Met a Moose in Maine One Day (2008), The Cods of Cape Cod (2009), Champ and Me by the Maple Tree (2010), and The Bourbon Street Band Is Back (2011).
The natural flow of the rhyming text, combined with the colorful and engaging illustrations, earned three of the books a 2010 Mom’s Choice Gold Seal Award for excellence in children’s literature. I Met a Moose in Maine One Day, a tale of a boy who befriends a moose, was the number one book of any kind sold at L.L. Bean’s flagship store in Freeport, Maine in 2010.
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