Book review: Skippyjon returns, eager to 'fleas,' in 'Cirque de Olé'

Published: Saturday, Oct. 20 2012 3:00 p.m. MDT

"Skippyjon Jones: Cirque de OlÉ," by Judy Schachner, was released Oct. 16 and is the newest book in the series for young readers.

Penguin Books for Young Readers

SKIPPYJON JONES: Cirque de Olé,” by Judy Schachner, Penguin, $17.99 (ages 3 and up)

Skippyjon Jones, the Siamese cat who thinks he is a Chihuahua, has skipped, tumbled and bounced through six previous adventures. Now he’s back with an imagination as big as the outdoors and more exuberant than ever as a “High-Wire Henry,” which makes his mama as worried “as a worm, in a wading pool.”

In daredevil fashion Skippyjon styles a homemade trapeze and launches himself “flying through the air with the greatest of fleas,” landing at the Cirque de Olé. With his Chimichango buddies, the superhero, Skippito Friskito, shows bravery facing elefantes, leones and osos. When his amigo Dan Diego pumps up his costume to make artificial musculos, Skippyjon ends up at the bottom of a trembling tower of tiny Chihuahuas. He walks a high wire and is shot from a cotton-candy cannon right back into his own home.

Skippyjon and his triplet sisters, Ju-Ju Bee, Jezebel and Jilly Boo, are treated to a piece of maple mouse pie before discovering fleas. Fleas! Certainly, as Skippyjon knows, fleas came from the circus.

Judy Schachner’s word play makes this a raving success for young listeners ages 3 and up. Each page is laced with rhyming chants and alliteration that demands to be read aloud. (Skippyjon received the E.B. White Read-Aloud Award in 2004.) The interjected Spanish and Spanglish add to the humor about a cat who takes on the persona of a great Spanish hero.

Skippyjon’s equally adventurous friends encourage his imagination and initiative, while a distraught Mama Junebug Jones and three tremulous sisters provide contrast to his exhausting behavior (resembling Peter Rabbit’s escapades).

Schachner has added two other winning features: spunky acrylic with pen-and-ink illustrations that are completely in sync with a romp through a circus and an audio disc read by the author, which further brings Skippyjon to life.

Skippyjon fans will certainly welcome back their exuberant friend. Olé!

If you go ...

What: Judy Schachner book signing

When: Wednesday, Oct. 24, 4:30 p.m.

Where: Anderson-Foothill Salt CityPublic Library, 1135 S. 2100 East, Salt Lake City

Web: kingsenglish.com

Email: marilousorensen@ymail.com

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