Colin McNaughton has been drawing pirates and giants, monsters and dinosaurs, since he was a boy, and all of them are lively, rambunctious characters that sing and talk and dance their way across the pages of his riotous books. “The older I get,” he says, “the more I realize that my sense of humor is exactly the same as it was when I was four years old—it hasn’t changed at all!”
Colin McNaughton’s childlike sense of humor may very well be the secret to his success as a children’s book author and illustrator. His books, including Captain Abdul’s Pirate School and Jolly Roger ad the Pirates of Captain Abdul, have been hailed for their hilarity and their kid appeal. In fact, Booklist called Captain Abdul’s Pirate School “a sort of dream come true for young pirate fanciers.” Such praise is nothing new for Colin McNaughton: since 1976 he has created more than sixty books, and he is now recognized as a leader in children’s book illustration.
Colin McNaughton’s book When I Grow Up stages a lively class musical. The sky’s the limit when Colin McNaughton’s imaginative cast of kids act out what they’d like to be when they grow up. And the naughty author-illustrator takes on the trials of potty training in Potty Poo-Poo Wee-Wee!, a funny, familiar tale to which toddlers — and their parents — will easily relate.
Growing up in his native England, the young Colin McNaughton had little indication that he would one day become an author-illustrator. There were no books at all in his parents’ home, he recalls, but there were always comics. These were his formative literature, and their slapstick humor has been a lasting influence. “I’ve been talking about the comic format for years,” he says. “It’s the modern way of telling stories for today’s children; it’s about movement, the step between film and the book.”
Colin McNaughton says he hated school, stating, “The word school still gives me nightmares.” Opting for technical college, he admits he even made a mess of getting in there:“I’d filled out the application wrong, and when I turned up for registration they’d never heard of me!” So he worked at odd jobs for the next year before entering art school. Although his first book was published while he was still in school, Colin McNaughton did not immediately become a full-time artist. He first tried editorial and advertising work, but did not find the satisfaction that he got out of creating children’s books. “At the end of it, there it is, a book on the shelf, not like a newspaper in the gutter. In fact, once you start thinking about it, it’s a smashing job!” If the response to his books is any indication, children and adults seem to agree that Colin McNaughton is doing a “smashing job.”
Colin McNaughton lives in London with his wife.