Before you scoff over a cartoon Siamese cat who thinks he is a Chihuahua as an adventure, you need to pick up a copy of a Skippyjon Jones book immediately. For an even bigger adventure, I wholly recommend getting one of the books on tape/CD, as they are read with such gusto and fun that they’re not to be missed! Judy Schachner’s series is a favorite of many children, and I guarantee that countless adults find them just as much fun.
In Skippyjon Jones: Lost in Spice, Skippyjon—who believes he is a dog—decides to take an adventure in space. To make his big-boy bed into Mars, he must naturally head to the kitchen, “borrow” some spices, and turn everything a rusty, dusty red! His mother and sisters—with the adorable names Jilly Boo, Ju-Ju Bee, and Jezebel—are cooking dinner, but his mother still tells him not to sprinkle any red spices anywhere—which he promises not to do and promptly does anyway. Most kids can relate to this; so can most moms.
When Skippyjon starts to pretend to be a Chihuahua in space, however, that’s when the real fun begins! He speaks with a Spanish accent, entertaining us with phrases like “Holy hot tamales!” and fun songs that we sing with an accent and clapping, much like anything you’d hear from Mexico. He also uses the word “dude” a lot, which adds to the fun.
Like other great picture books regarding imagination and pretend, when Skippyjon is pretending to be a dog in space, he looks like he actually is in space. Along with his pretend friends, Los Chimichangos, he plans to build a chili powder pipeline into space. There are plenty of Spanish words thrown in, from caliente to frijoles, to help foster a bit of Spanish discussion and vocabulary as well.
Perhaps the biggest adventure is when he meets a green Martian with one eye who repeats everything Skippyjon says. Of course, he promptly christens the Martian “Uno Ojo.” Then he meets several other big Martians, and a tug-of-war commences over Skippito’s sock monkey between the Martians and Skippyjon’s friends and himself. This entire adventure, taking place in his closet, then ends as he finds himself falling out of the closet onto Earth, right back into his room.
I love how his mother doesn’t scold him for the mess or playing—just just makes sure he’s OK, and then later jokes with him. I also love how he continues to play until bedtime, after which he presumably passes out. This adorable adventure will delight your fledgling readers, and it will be a joy for you to read aloud, too.