Meet the three grandmothers who created RhymeTime storybooks! Over the years of mothering and teaching and grandmothering, they’ve enjoyed reading to their little ones, and have learned a thing or two about what captures a child’s attention.

Joan Michelson     Artist / Best Friend of Jack the Cat

Joan Michelson’s whimsical illustrations bring a smile to pet lovers of all ages. Over the years Joan has mothered many animal family members, but Jack the Cat is one of her favorites. His antics are the inspiration for the Jack the Cat stories.

“Auntie Joan” (a great-aunt plus grandmother of seven) has created art in every form her entire life. Since retiring as an elementary school teacher she enjoys drawing, painting, sculpting, and creating jewelry in her studios in Florida and North Carolina. She regularly travels to New York and London art museums to feed her artistic inspiration. Her bold, elemental illustrations are influenced by Chagall, Matisse and Hockney.


Debora Emmert     Author / Creator of RhymeTime storybooks

Debora Emmert (Nonna Debora to her half-Italian grandchildren) enjoys creating stories based on the wisdom she learned from her mother and father, as well as from reading Aesop’s Fables during visits to her grandparents’ farm. The “Willie” storybooks she created with Bonnie are inspired by the life lessons she learned as a child.

Debora grew up on a farm with cats and a dog, a pony and horse, sheep, cows, and pigs. She loved the dog and tolerated the cats. (She thought they were sneaky.) But then she met Jack. She thinks he’s the coolest cat ever, and sees him every chance she gets. Jack’s entertaining adventures inspired her to collaborate with Joan to create rhyming tales about Jack’s daily life and escapades.

Debora holds a BA in English from Quincy University, and a Master in Education from the University of Wisconsin.


Bonnie J. Murray     Illustrator of Willie / Mural Painter

Bonnie J. Murray has a Master of Arts in studio painting, and has specialized in commercial and residential murals during her years in the La Crosse, Wisconsin, area. Bonnie enjoys painting a scene for a book’s page as much as for a large architectural space. Though the size and scale differ, she says interpreting the author’s vision is fun and exciting for her.

Bonnie enjoys many hobbies, including visiting museums and galleries, working on home improvement projects, and listening to live music. Above all, Bonnie and her husband, Steve, value time with their six children and their families.

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