Robert’s Snow…Meet Illustrator Judy Schachner!

“Oh, I’m Skippyjon Jones, and I bounce on my bed; And one or six times, I land on my head!!!”

Today’s illustrator feature for the Robert’s Snow: For Cancer’s Cure Fundraiser is none other than Judy Schachner, created of the beloved Skippyjon Jones series and many more fantastic books for kids and kids at heart.

Blogger’s Note:  I’m a children’s author and a middle school English teacher, so my students are collaborating on our series of illustrator profiles! Today’s feature is courtesy of the 6th, 7th, and 8th graders of the SMS Writers Club!

We were asked to feature writer/illustrator Judy Schachner here to help raise awareness of the Robert’s Snow fundraiser.  Robert’s Snow raises money for cancer research at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute.  Judy was kind enough to agree to an interview and has donated a signed copy of one of her books and a Skippyjon Jones doll to a lucky blog reader!

Thanks for joining us, Judy!  We love Skippyjon Jones, so we were so happy that you created a snowflake. Why are you involved in the Robert’s Snow fundraiser?

Because it feels good to give. And because I lost my mother to cancer when I was young and then later my stepmother.

Could you tell us about your snowflake for this year’s auction?

This is the third snowflake I’ve painted. It’s the second time I’ve painted my cat Skippyjon Jones (with mittens on his ears). It’s done in acrylics.

What led you to become an author/illustrator?

A huge love of drawing, painting and storytelling that I’ve done since I was a very little girl.

What other career dreams did you have when you were younger?

I was too shy to star on Broadway, I didn’t have the math grades for nursing, and too many bad habits to be a nun so a life in art was my only choice.

Many of your illustrations go along with stories that have some humor. How come?

I love “funny” but other books of mine are quite different – Yo Vikings, The Grannyman, Mr. Emerson’s Cook, and Willy and May.

The Skippyjon Jones books are so popular, and we wonder if that’s partly because the name is just so much fun to say. How did you come up with Skippyjon’s name?

Cats should always have more than one name. SkippyjonJones is what my cat called himself.

We just learned that your real Skippyjon Jones, your own Siamese cat,  passed away recently, and we’re so sorry.

Skippyjon died in September. I can’t tell you how sad I am.  Here’s a picture of him in his younger days.

So he was the inspiration for the Skippyjon Jones books?  How did you create the stories?

Skippyjon’s character is like a good stew. You start with a big pot. Then add a very funny brother named Kevin, who was famous in our house for his over-active imagination. Add a handful of Siamese cat named Skippy, one basement with a bumblebee in it, and a tussle in the litterbox. Finally a dash of Antonio Banderas.

Which came first for this series of books — the story or the illustration ideas?

I like to work in dummy form right from the beginning. Pictures fill in the spaces where the words aren’t working and vice-versa. I usually think of a title right away and almost always have my beginning sentence. It’s the rest of the book that’s a problem.

Of the books you’ve illustrated, do you have a favorite?

Yes, Yo Vikings, it’s about my children and it’s based on a true story.

Now a few rapid-fire questions…
If you had to choose a favorite author and a favorite book of all time, what
would they be?

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.

Your favorite food?
Angel Food Cake

Favorite thing to do in your spare time?
Read, re-arrange the furniture, and kiss my cats.

Favorite time of year?
Give me snow!!

Bring on the snow!  Judy Schachner’s snowflake is featured in Auction #3, which runs from December 3-7.  If you would like to bid on a snowflake for Robert’s Snow, click here to check out Judy’s creation and the others.

If you’d like to be entered in a drawing to win a signed copy of one of Judy’s books AND a Skippyjon Jones doll, here’s what you need to do.  Simply visit Auction #3, and then come back here and leave us a comment to tell us about a snowflake that you love.  We’ll enter your name in the drawing, and a member of the Writers Club will draw one lucky winner out of a hat to win a signed book and doll.  (Note: If you don’t have an LJ account, please make sure you leave your name.  It’s tough to enter “anonymous” in a drawing and even tougher to track her down if she wins…)

Be sure to check out today’s other Robert’s Snow illustrator features…

41 Replies on “Robert’s Snow…Meet Illustrator Judy Schachner!

  1. I loved hearing more about this illustrator! Skippyjon Jones came into my classroom for the first time last week. (How did I miss him?!?!) Two of my boys did the most amazing deep reading of the text and illustrations.

    Favorite flake from auction 3 would have to be Matt Phelan’s. (I’m featuring him in a couple of weeks!)

    Mary Lee
    A Year of Reading

  2. TadMack says:

    Oh no! I didn’t know Skippyjon had died. I will cherish the Skippyjon books all the more. I am so allergic to cats that I haven’t been able to have one — but Skippyjon Jones has been my pretend cat since the first time I saw one of his books. I don’t know what it is — the name or the hilarious EARS — but the whimsical illustrations have always just made me smile.

    Great interview SMS Writing Club!

  3. Mary Beth says:

    This year’s snowflakes are all so beautiful! But I have a special affinity for RW Alley’s snowflake Paddington at Paddington Station because that was one of my first chapter books I read by myself. I was so excited this spring when I got to see the actual Paddington Station.

  4. Hoo ha! That was fun to read. “Too many bad habits to be a nun” and a “dash of Antonio Banderas” — I love it.

    I really need to get my hands on her non-Skippyjon books.

    Thanks to you and your students and Judy for this great feature!

    Jules, 7-Imp

  5. Adorable! I’m sure this one will soar well out of my price range, but for now, I’ll dream.

    I agree, Matt Phelan’s snowflake is terrific. It’s those mischievous eyes.

  6. I have to at least attempt to win this one!
    I have absolutely no luck with contests but maybe since this one is for the little guy luck will be on our side. My four year old has to be Skippyjon Jones biggest fan! I got a signed book at ALA this summer and she told me about the real Skippyjon. My son was downright giddy to see the picture! How sad she lost him in September.
    I loved reading the interview Kate!

    Aaron & Mommy, tightly crossing fingers!
    We so wish we had the means to bid on this one!

  7. Contest

    Hi Kate,

    Great interview! Skippyjon Jones is a favorite at our house.

    All the snowflakes were great, but my four year old and I give a special thumbs up for the Skippyjon Snowflake Jones snowflake!

    Annie Bailey

  8. Forgot to add. . .

    Sorry! I forgot to add you can reach me at Verla’s: anniebailey7. (But I think you already know that.)

  9. Kris at Paradise Found

    Kate, nice interview. And how cool is it that your students are participating in this with you! I’ve posted a link back on my “contests” post.

  10. snowflakes

    So sorry for your loss of Skippyjohn Jones. It’s hard to lose a friend.
    Choosing a favorite snowflake is like choosing a favorite child! Like snowflakes, each is uniquely beautiful. I loved the vibrant colors of Julie Pascklis’ Winter Birds and the softness of Luck and Hope (Karen Lee). And more …..

  11. snowflake – I really love in Auction #3 snowflakes

    Unfortunately I cannot even think of bidding at the minimum bid on auction #3 – I know this is for a good cause but I think all the auctions should start at the same range and go from there.

    But what do I know? nothing – I have enjoyed seeing the snowflakes and making a wonderful wish list of the snowflakes I like – the one that really caught my eye was Blue Morpho – since I love butterflies and that one just jumped off the page at me.

    I will be posting this weeks’ listing soon – even though I couldn’t interview or host an illustrator and his snowflake – E 🙂

    Elysabeth Eldering
    BRIDE-AND-SEEK, a short story selected to appear in The Petigru Review (available now on

    member Sisters in Crime, Greenville Chapter
    member South Carolina Writer’s Workshop, Greenville Chapter

  12. Favorite Snowflake

    It’s so hard to choose a favorite, and I love so many of these snowflakes. I am really fond of the pieces that have art on the front and the back. I am quite taken with “Winter Birds” by Julie Paschkis. The birds are very primitive looking, with the colors inverted on opposite sides. It’s a real beauty.

    Thanks for sharing this wonderful interview.
    Tricia Stohr-Hunt

  13. I was rather taken by the strange-ness of Rabbit Warrior by Bill Carmen…

    I do so love saying “Skippyjon Jones.” Thanks for the great post!

  14. Re: Kris at Paradise Found

    Thanks, Kris! My students are having a blast with this, and they’re appreciating the comments. It’s great for them to have a real audience for their work.

  15. I don’t know if it’s too late to enter this drawing, but my favorite snowflakes from Auction 3 are:
    “Loch Kindness” by Scott Magoon
    “Wishing” by Susan Mitchell
    “Larue Skating” by Mark Teague
    “Flower” by Grace Lin
    “Within Reach” by Joy Allen
    “J. Lo” by Adam Rex

  16. Linda, guess what? My students pulled your name out of our Robert’s Snow Winners Basket this afternoon, so you’ve won a signed book and doll from Judy Schachner! Please email me your full name & address (kmessner at katemessner dot com) so Judy can sign your book and pass it along. Congrats!