Skippyjon Jones is a Siamese kitten, the hero of a series of children's picture books written and illustrated by author Judith Byron (Judy) Schachner, and inspired by one of her own cats, Skippy.
He lives with his mother, Mama Junebug Jones and his three sisters Jezebel, Jilly Boo and Ju-Ju Bee, but he doesn't want to be just an ordinary kitten.
Oh no! He has a lively imagination that makes him wonder whether being a cat is actually the right thing for him, as well as ears that are too big for his head, and a head that's too big for his body.
He's always getting into trouble. In the first story, after waking up in a bird's nest (a very un-catlike thing to do!) he's sent to his room by his Mama, who'd like him to be more serious and consider just exactly what it means to be a Siamese cat.
Alone with his imagination, Skippyjon Jones bounces on his big-boy bed and notices his reflection in the mirror. But instead of seeing the big-eared Siamese kitten that he is, the face staring back at him is that of a Chihuahua.
Skippyjon Jones walks into his closet (he always has adventures in his closet) and daydreams that he's 'El Skippito, the great sword fighter', based, Judy has said, on Antonio Banderas' role in the film Zorro.
He finds himself in Mexico, rescuing Los Chimichangos (Mexican Chihuahuas who become his imaginary friends and share this and subsequent adventures) from Alfredo Buzzito, the fearsome Bumblebeeto Bandito.
And he sings ...
"My name is Skippito Friskito
I fear not a single bandito"
What happens next? Well, that would be telling! You'll need to read the Skippyjon Jones books. But in addition to Mexico, Skippito's adventures lead him to Egypt and even to Mars and along the way he has encounters with dinosaurs, too.
The stories are perfect to read aloud to kids, the illustrations are bright, colorful, appealing and very, very funny so there's plenty to look at.
Judy Schachner's drawings are, of course, gorgeous for any Meezer-lover, and in particular I love the expressions (sometimes rather harassed!) on Mama Junebug Jones's face.
Some of the books come with an audio CD in which the stories are read by Judy Schachner herself, so you don't even have to do the reading.
The first book, which is just called Skippyjon Jones, was followed by Skippyjon Jones ...
… in the Doghouse
… in Mummy Trouble
… and the Big Bones
… Lost in Spice
... Class Action
... Cirque de Ole
Other books (coloring books and sticker stories, as well as early reading books) inspired by the stories, have also been published.
This delightful, must-watch interview, recorded before the publication of 'Lost in Spice', includes glimpses into the lives of Judy Schachner's own Siamese cats (who look very much like my own) as well as the thought processes behind her books.
Judy Schachner clearly loves Siamese cats as another of her books, The Grannyman, was inspired by one, too.
Simon is a very old Siamese cat, so old, in fact, that his bones creak, most of his parts have stopped working, and his breath smells … well ... just awful.
Simon has had a wonderful life. He has his memories, the family he lives with adore him and do everything they can to take care of him and make him feel comfortable, but Simon is tired and feels useless.
So one day, he rolls over, sticks his paws in the air, and decides to give up on life.
Which is when his family do a very surprising thing. They drop something small and soft onto his upturned tummy ...
Simon is revived by having to look after and teach his new young friend how to live.
If you've ever lived with and cared for an ageing cat, you'll adore this book, but be prepared to cry ...
Lovingly told and beautifully illustrated, The Grannyman is a book for adults and children alike and for anyone who has ever loved a cat (especially a Siamese one.)
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