Thursday, May 5, 2011

Children's Book Week: Skippyjon!

Since today is Cinco de Mayo, it seems like the perfect day to blog about the Skippyjon Jones books by Judith Schachner. These books are a lot of fun to read aloud, especially if you know some Spanglish. Skippyjon is a male Siamese kitten who has an alter ego as a chihuahua and has lots of pun-filled adventures in his imagination.

A few years ago, Judith Schachner made an appearance at the NC Literary festival and I met her during a book signing event. I remember being annoyed at how slowly the line was moving until someone pointed out that she was doing a little kitty drawing in each book that she signed. I remember her that during her reading, she talked about how she remembered having trouble staying focused in school and that she was often daydreaming or drawing when she should have been paying attention.

One of my favorite little things about the Skippyjon books is that Skippyjon's mother has all these goofy nicknames for him, such as "Mr. Kitten Britches" or "Mr. Fuzzy Pants." I always look forward to seeing what name she will use next.

Skippyjon does have some stereotypical Mexican characteristics that don't always appeal to everyone (especially those of us too prone to overthinking these things), but I remember that when I was waiting in line to meet the author, there were two elementary school librarians in front of me who were talking about how the Skippyjon books were the only books that some of the Spanish-speaking kids in their school got interested in on their own.

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