Books

Flashback Friday: Junie B. Jones

Lucy Cappello ’19 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

There are few series as iconic or as lasting as Barbara Park’s Junie B. Jones. Though the initial book was written over a decade ago, its nearly thirty book run has launched the title into the elementary school canon. Fun, exciting, and easy to read, these books are not to be forgotten about.

Photo Credit: Random House
Photo Credit: Random House

Junie B., the protagonist, is a hysterical and opinionated little girl. Many Americans probably remember her infamous line, “My name is Junie B. Jones. The B stands for Beatrice. Except I don’t like Beatrice. I just like B

and that’s all,” or her stuffed animal hilariously named Philip Johnny Bob. She also has a variety of silly catchphrases and a tendency to give her peers memorable nicknames like “That” Grace or Handsome Warren.

Each book in the series chronicles one specific issue she must overcome, like in Junie B. Jones Has a Monster Under Her Bed, or a milestone she has reached, like in Junie B. Jones is a Graduation Girl or Junie B. Jones First Grader (at last)! Regardless of the topic, Park makes sure Junie B. maintains her frankness, always asking the appropriate questions and rarely holding back. It’s because of this that readers, while perhaps picking up the books for entertainment, always finish having learned something.

Typically, that thing is a lesson about friendship, about doing the right thing, or about growing up. No doubt, Junie B. makes many mistakes, and she sometimes struggles to correct them, but readers know that at her core, Junie B. is a good person. It’s her ever-present curiosity and desire to learn as well as her fortitude in overcoming typical childhood challenges that makes these books so relevant, even years after their initial publication. Though much has changed since 1992, when the first book was released, children Junie B.’s age still deal with things she did like their first crushes and mean girls at school. Junie B.’s stories are everlasting ones, ones that will always be relevant.

Photo Credit: Random House
Photo Credit: Random House

Though the series has been criticized and Junie B. has been labeled a bad role model due to her sass and poor grammar (the books were even banned, having placed #71 on the American Library Association’s Top 100 Banned or Challenged Books list), they have promoted individuality among elementary school children for years. Junie B. Jones always stays true to herself and her likes and dislikes, even when her beliefs aren’t the popular ones or her behavior isn’t well received. She shows kids that elementary school is tough, but if she can survive being dropped by popular girl Lucille, then anyone can. No doubt, Junie B. has given children the courage to be who they really are for years, and will continue to do so for even more to come.

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