Junie B. Jones, a series of books for kindergarten and first grade
Junie B. Jones is one of the most popular characters of children literature. She is a young personage, created by Barbara Park and first launched in 1992. So, for almost 20 years this little hilarious and smart girl has delighted many children along with some of their parents.
By this time, there are 27 books in the series, a companion journal and a survival guide to school, all published by Random House, New York.
There is nothing out of the ordinary about Junie B. Jones. She is just a normal girl that has to face the daily life through kindergarten and first grade, with all the little or big events that may take place in a child’s life. The class, the colleagues, the school bus and all other things related to school. Then there are her friend and her not so friend, her parents, grandparents and other people she comes to know. She rides the “smelly bus”, goes to school, interact with other children, has sleep over or goes on field trips. She also has to face her fears and overcome emotional problems. Then, there is the Halloween and the Christmas, and the Valentine Day. It is a world full of excitement and fun.
Junie B. Jones is a funny girl. She asks lots of questions but there are also some questions she doesn’t asks, instead she finds her own answer. Sometime these answers she comes up are hilarious, other times are surprising or right wrong. She doen’s understand everything that adults do or all they are trying to tell her or explain her but, by the end, she always comes up on the right side. Junie B. Jones has a kind of spontaneous innocence that is often lost in too much education and mannerism.
The books are written on the first person, from the perspective of Junie B. She narrates how her days are going and what happened when and to whom. She writes her thoughts and her judgements. Sometimes she misspells some words and that’s the way they are printed in the book. Some other words she uses are nick names like “sun face” or “big head”. She makes up words or uses words that we consider bad, like”stupid”. But she knows better and she always comes to understand when she’s wrong.
At the beginning of this article I stated that some parents were delighted by this book. And that’s true for the majority of them, including me. Though, some parents consider the Junie B. Jones books inappropriate. They mostly argue that using misspelled or bad words may confuse the little the kids who are trying to learn the good way of spelling or the proper manners. Besides, some other parents are even considering the stories too ordinary and boring.
On the good side, parents that like the Junie B. Jones series appreciated the humor and the simplicity of the books. They were surprised of the way a little girl may see things that happens daily in our life, things that we, the adults, are to busy to notice. Another good point that was brought up by some parents, and maybe the most important one, was that Junie B. Jones books have awaken the love for reading on their children. Facing such an argument, no misspelled or bad words can ever shadow this accomplishment.
If you are among the ones that love Junie B., then you can purchase the whole series from Amazon or Random House websites. The last one has a very comprehensive description of every single book they published.
The latest addition is “Junie B.’s essential survival guide to school”, another hilarious book, only this time she corrects her misspelled words. Because she is a big girl now.
The bad side
Below are two excerpt from parents reviews. I would protect their privacy and don’t publish names.
"The writing is awful: bad grammar ("she wins me at all of our races"), lousy sentence structure ("I tapped on my chin very thinking"), poor and unconvincing word choice ("me and him are personal friends"), distracting and annoyingly repetitive conceits ("that Grace") and a surprising dearth of active verbs ("I did a gulp"). Much of this, manifestly, is a deliberate conceit of the author, but some of it just as clearly reveals the author's own incompetence at writing -- for early readers or anyone else." --
"The title character offers a terrible role model. She is a brat: egocentric, whiny, shockingly sexist, and even racist at times. Other characters are presented as mere two dimensional props. The plotting is idiotic and quite often offensive. The illustrations are unimaginative and graceless, rather like a mid-'50s Life Magazine ad for Westinghouse refrigerators." --
The good side
Here are two excerpt from parents reviews. I would protect their privacy and don’t publish names.
"My 6 year old granddaughter was introduced to Junie B by her 1st grade teacher. She loves these books and we love reading them with her. Everyone needs to get a sense of humor and stop feeling the need to be politically correct in every aspect of their lives. Junie B is hilarious. My granddaughter is smart enough to know the difference between good and bad behavior, as well as the difference between real life and fiction. More than I can say for some adults, obviously." --
"I never liked reading, and when I was around 6 or 7, I remember picking up the one with the smelly schoolbus on it, and I was so proud because it was the first book I was ever able to read and understand and actually take interest in. Before that, most readings were boring and I didn't know why people would read or why people even used periods and commas!"
About the author
Barbara Park was born in April, 21st, 1947. She grew up on Mt. Holly, New Jersey. She holds a degree on secondary education. For a short time she had a job as a teacher but then she decided to become a writer. Her first children novel, called “Operation: Dump the Chump” was published by Alfred Knopf, Inc. She wrote Junie B. Jones at the request of Random House.
She won seven Children’s Choice Awards and four Parent’s Choice Awards.
Some other books by Barbara Park are:
The Kid in the Red Jacket;
Almost Starring Skinnybones;
My mother Got Married (And Other Disasters)