Bibliographic Info: Schachner, Judy Skippyjon Jones Penguin Dutton 32 pp. Formats: Hardcover (2003) ISBN:0-525- 47134-0 $15.99, iPad app, iBook Reading Level: 2.4 Interest Level: K-2 Genre: Rhyming Story, Adventure Major Themes: Creativity, Imagination, Bravery, Cleverness
Summary: Skippyjon Jones is a Siamese cat who likes to pretend he’s a bird, a fish, a dog, etc… He awakens one day with the birds in the tree again (much to the astonishment and dismay of Mama). After a lecture during which Skippyjon busily plays with the fish in the fishbowl, the little guy is sent to his room and warned to stay out of his closet (a magic portal to Skippyjon’s pretend worlds). The indefatigable main character exuberantly bounces on his bed before a mirror. In his reflection, Skippyjon sees a Chihuahua which fires Skippyjon’s imagination and inspires another transformation. After a visit to his toy box and a change of costume, Skippyjon enters his closet as a dog and encounters a motley pack of fellow Chihuahuas. Of course, Skippyjon emerges as the hero of his own boisterous tale.
Skippyjon Jones was given the StorytimeWOW Marquee Seal on March 18th, 2015 and has been selected for the PictureBookWOW, Picture eBookWOW and AppWOW collections at storytimeWOW.com. Read the Storytime section below for details on why this material was selected and how it meets the StorytimeWOW Standards.
Review: Skippyjon Jones is a high quality trade book which functions best as a read-aloud for elementary school aged children. It’s a bit too long for pre-k groups. This book is about how much fun you can have with your imagination. Children will experience how Skippyjon Jones consistently remains happily engaged with life (even while being punished) through adventures he creates using his colorful imagination. Listeners will find an introduction to the Spanish language and culture in its pages. Skippyjon Jones illustrations convey the main character’s winning charm and portray how a little Siamese cat can believably masquerade as a Chihuahua. Story readers may want to practice reading the story aloud before presenting it to groups. Reading the text aloud is like running a new obstacle course. It helps to become familiar with the obstacles (such as a Chihuahua pack’s Spanish-inspired character names and the author’s musical phrasing) to make it through the telling smoothly the first few times. After that, performing the book with the requisite zest should become second nature.
Significance: Through its heroic main character (a Siamese cat with gusto), its humorous tone, and its linguistic inventiveness, Skippyjon Jones offers a tongue-in-cheek introduction to the Spanish language and culture.
Bibliotherapeutic Usefulness: Skippyjon is a role model for children. Throughout the pages of this book, the appealing character exhibits cleverness, courage, and boundless imagination.
Storytime: This is a book that begs to be read aloud. The app format adds background music and animation to add production value the occassion. The app’s playfulness, especially with the Spanish language, may be used to create an interactive echo element to foster linguistic and vocal development. Kids will have fun repeating the colorful Chihuahua’s names.
Storytime Tip: Story readers can make reading this award-winning picture book an event by wearing Skippyjon’s Chihuahua ears and mask. This official Skippyjon merchandise is available at Skippyjon’s webstore. Or, readers may choose to craft their own Chihuahua masks and ears. Bring your own mice and beans.
Readalikes: Skippyjon Jones is a picture book series that offers many adventures featuring the creative little Siamese cat. Readalikes include Adam Rubin’s “Dragons Love Tacos” and Helen Lester’s “A Porcupine Named Fluffy.”
Awards: Skippyjon Jones was the inaugural E. B. White Read Aloud Award winner. This award was established in 2004 by the Association of Booksellers for Children to honor books that its membership felt embody universal read aloud standards. It has also won several local children’s book awards, including the New Hampshire State Library’s 2005 Ladybug Picture Book Award, the 2005 Washington Children’s Choice Picture Book Award, and the 2006 Colorado Council International Reading Association (CCIRA) Colorado Children’s Book Award for Picture Book.
I chose this book to help promote the children’s book theme of imagination during storytime programs and here at storytimeWOW.com.
Written by Tom Schween, founder of storytimeWOW! Posts include links to Amazon.com where you may purchase the materials presented. Use your local library to check out books for free.