Geographic Connection to Pennsylvania: Swarthmore, Delaware County
Award winning author Judy Schachner lives in Swarthmore.
Awards: The E.B. White Read Aloud Award, The Golden Sower Award
Judy Schachner was born in Waltham, Massachusetts to father Edward, mother Mary Francis and brothers Ted and Kevin. Although a shy child, she thrived in art from a young age. After graduating from the Massachusetts College of Art in 1973, Schachner worked for a greeting card factory, designing cards with various themes. After marrying husband, Bob, and having two daughters, Schachner devoted all of her time to a portfolio of children's book art. After a few self-illustrated children's books, Schachner introduced Skippyjon Jones to the world, and has since been nominated and won several awards for her books children's books.
Judy Schachner was the last child and only daughter born to Edward, a machinist, and Mary Francis Byron, a homemaker, in Waltham, Massachusetts. After moving to New Jersey, Schachner quickly realized she loved art—she liked to paint and draw, and found she loved telling stories. A shy girl in school, Schachner excelled in art, where she was able to draw her perfect world. Spending her free time reading many comics and watching countless movies, Schachner eventually enrolled at Massachusetts College of Art in 1969, where she earned her B.F.A. in illustration in 1973. Schachner graduated college not only with a passion for illustrating, but also a budding enthusiasm for writing.
Her first job was not the glamor she expected, though it was a good stepping-stone that helped fulfill her dream. Schachner put her painting skills to the test while working for Hallmark, designing greeting cards for five years. She worked on countless kinds of greeting cards, but was unhappy—she was growing bored and was not having fun.
Soon after, Schachner met her husband, Bob. With his motivation and support, Schachner quit her nine-to-five job and focused all of her attention and energy on creating a portfolio of children's book art. This job kept her busy—that is, until motherhood became her full-time job. Daughters Emma Rose and Sarah Elizabeth required Schachner's full attention, and once again, her aspirations were put on hold.
Of course, as her daughters grew, Schachner read countless children's books to them. "After reading so many children's books, I knew I needed to pursue it," Schachner stated in an interview. This urged her to finish her portfolio, a task that ended up taking her more than ten years. Once completed, she traveled to New York in the search for a publisher. It was there that she met Lucia Monfried, the publisher who took on Schachner's work.
Schachner's first published illustrations were found in Donna Jo Napoli's children's book, The Prince and the Pond: Otherwise Known as De Fawg Pin, which was published in 1992. Just three years later, in 1995, Schachner had her first self-illustrated children's book published, Willy and May, a story about a young girl's relationship with her eccentric aunt. After this heartfelt story and lovable character, Schachner published a handful of other children's books: Mr. Emerson's Cook, The Grannyman, and Yo, Vikings!. In 2003, Schachner's books became a hit thanks to an one adorable Siamese kitten named Skippyjon Jones.
The Skippyjon Jones series has taken off since it's start in 2003. Skippyjon is a big-eared Siamese kitten with a vivid imagination and an unusual life goal—to be a chihuahua like his dog friends. Skippyjon's imagination takes him on adventures, such as becoming a Spanish swordsman named Skippito Friskito in Skippyjon Jones, and exploring Egyptian tombs in Skippyjon Jones in Mummy Trouble. Children fall in love with these playful characters, as well as the humor and and the wild adventures, and Schachner's colorful illustrations only help exaggerate the comedy found within the stories. In 2004, Skippyjon Jones won the E.B. White Read Aloud Award, which honors books that are felt to embodied the universal read aloud standards. In 2005, the book won the Ladybug Picture Award, Armadillo Readers' Choice Award, and the Washington Children's Choice Picture Book Award, and in 2006 won the Colorado Children's Book Award.
While working on her self-illustrated books, Schachner continued illustrating for other children's books as well. I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Pie by Alison Jackson won the hearts of children all over. Pairing Schachner's brilliantly vivid illustrations with Jackson's comedic storyline brought forth a book loved by many. Other books Schachner has illustrated include Jimmy, the Pickpocket of the Palace and How the Cat Swallowed Thunder.
With her witty stories, memorable characters and playful illustrations, Schachner has created a world in which children and learn and explore. She continues to write books for the Skippyjon Jones series, while residing in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania with her husband, two daughters, and inspirational cat, Skippy.
Willy and May, Dutton (New York, NY), 1995.
Mr. Emerson's Cook, Dutton (New York, NY), 1998.
The Grannyman, Dutton (New York, NY), 1999.
Yo, Vikings!, Dutton (New York, NY), 2002.
Skippyjon Jones, Dutton (New York, NY), 2003.
Skippyjon Jones in the Dog-House, Dutton (New York, NY), 2005.
Skippyjon Jones in Mummy Trouble, Dutton (New York, NY), 2006.
Skippyjon Jones Is Ready to Color, Dutton (New York, NY), 2007.
Donna Jo Napoli, The Prince and the Pond: Otherwise Known as De Fawg Pin, Dutton (New York, NY), 1992.
Donna Jo Napoli, Jimmy, the Pickpocket of the Palace, Dutton (New York, NY), 1995.
Alison Jackson, I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Pie, Dutton (New York, NY), 1997.
Lloyd Alexander, How the Cat Swallowed Thunder, Dutton (New York, NY), 2000.