photosetNov 18, 2013 9:33 pm
Obit of the Day: Creator of “Junie B. Jones”
Junie B. Jones is called “the funniest kindergartner ever,” “irreverent,” “loud-mouthed,” and, even “inappropriate.” The school girl protagonist of thirty children’s chapter books was the creation of author Barbara Park. Mrs. Park, who modeled Junie after some of her own class clowning, would write 30 books about Junie B. between 1992 and 2013.
Mrs. Park, who originally planned on becoming a teacher until she stepped into a classroom, began writing books for children in the 1980s. She shopped her first manuscript, Operation Dump the Chump, to three different publishers until it was purchased by Alfred A. Knopf. Ironically, Dump the Chump would be Mrs. Park’s second book published by Knopf (1982), a year after she made her debut with Don’t Make Me Smile (1981). She would write 13 non-Junie B. Jones novels during her career.
But her beloved Junie B. Jones was her greatest legacy. By the time of Mrs. Park’s death the series had sold 55 million copies as young readers followed the school girl’s exploits. Originally set in kindergarten, Junie B. Jones was able to reach the first grade after eighteen years, a lengthy stay Mrs. Park acknowledged in her 2001 book Junie B. Jones, First Grader: At Last!
As popular as Junie B. Jones was with kids, her slang and attitude were deemed inappropriate by some adults. Between 2000 and 2009, the Junie B. Jones series was the 71st most challenged/banned book in the United States according to the American Library Association. (Number 72? Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison.)
Outside of books, Mrs. Park served as the CEO and co-founder of Sisters in Survival (SIS), a non-profit which provides money for ovarian cancer diagnosis and treatment to patients who could not otherwise afford it.
Mrs. Park died on November 15, 2013 at the age of 66 of complications from ovarian cancer.
(Images are all copyright of Random House, Barbara Park, and Denise Brunkus and courtesy of: top left, scholastic.com; top right, examiner.com; middle left, The Cotton Boll Conspiracy; middle right, juniebjones.com; bottom left, indiebound.com; bottom right, escobookstore.com)
photoNov 11, 2013 6:16 pm
photoOct 22, 2013 2:44 pm
photosetOct 04, 2013 2:20 pm
quoteSep 26, 2013 11:51 am
"When we buy into these ideas about boys and reading, we also make a statement about girls and reading. We believe they’re automatically readers. They don’t need our support or encouragement to be life-long readers because reading is part and parcel of being a girl. Their lives are small, internal. That their interests aren’t in non-fiction or sports books or comics and graphic novels. But we send a mixed message here, since girls should be insulted by the idea that they’re interested in anything “girly,” too."
photoAug 24, 2013 6:40 pm
quoteJun 30, 2013 6:16 pm
"When you grow up poor, sometimes books are the only connection you have to the world that exists outside your neighborhood. You begin to imagine that the people in those books matter. You imagine that they are important—maybe even immortal—because someone wrote about them. But you? When you fail to find yourself in books—or people like you, who live in neighborhoods like yours, who look like you and love like you—you begin to question your place in the world. You begin to question if those people who make up your neighborhood and your family are worth writing about, if you are worth writing about. Maybe no one thinks about them or you. Maybe no one sees you."
photoJun 19, 2013 11:33 am
Virginia Woolf memorably wrote:
I ransack public libraries, and find them full of sunk treasure.
Here’s to the glorious geography of ransacking: A stride-stopping map of the distribution density of public libraries.