Shoo Rayner was born on December 15th, 1956 at Kingston-upon-Thames. He was educated mainly at boarding school, first at a prep. school in Surrey, then at King's School, Canterbury (which he hated). After his father had left the army (out of school, Shoo's formative years were spent in Germany, Aden and Wiltshire), the family settled in Bedford, and Shoo attended Bedford School as a day-boy.
His first ambition was to be a rock-and-roll star, and he now realises that the songs he wrote were good training for the writing of children's books. He took a job as a civil servant but then decided to go to art college. He was interviewed at Cambridge College of Arts and Technology by Colin McNaughton, to whom he remains indebted for introducing him to the world of children's books.
Shoo's first book contract was with Ernest Benn. The book was to be called The Trouble With Strawberry Jam Pancakes, but after delivering three separate sets of artwork the title was shelved. His first published work was a set of six stories for the Oxford Reading Tree.