Thursday, November 21, 2013
A Sad Goodbye
On Monday we learned that Barbara Park, best-selling author of the Junie B. Jones books, passed away from ovarian cancer. I was truly saddened to hear for a variety reasons - she was too young, ovarian cancer is just awful, and what would become of that smart-mouthed kid that I have known for years? But mostly because she brought laughter to my house many times when I would read her books to my daughters.
Both my girls loved the Junie B. books. I know some parents weren't fond of the sassy, trouble-maker who didn't always use correct grammar. In fact, while her books sold some 55 million copies in North America alone, they were often banned in homes and sometimes schools.
But none of that mattered to my daughters and I when we would snuggle up in bed and literally ROFL (roll on floor laughing) at Junie B.'s antics. My girls were in kindergarten or first grade when they went through their Junie B. phase, and while they tried to read some of the text, they often got tired easily and I would take over. We amassed a collection of Junie B. paperbacks that spanned from Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus to Junie B. Jones, First Grader: Aloha-ha-ha. One of the best thing about Junie B. was that maybe your child wouldn't be fresh to her teacher or call her friend a stupid-head or do something not-so-nice to her baby brother, but Junie B. could. And did. And maybe that was enough so you didn't have to.
Anyway, I read this quote from the Reuters article about her death, and it really captured my families love for what she created and what it meant to us.
The author once said some people measure the value of a children's book in terms of morals lessons it tries to impose or role models it depicts, but she did not agree.
"Personally, I happen to think that a book is of extraordinary value if it gives the reader nothing more than a smile or two. In fact, I happen to think that's huge," she said.
I leave you with my tribute to Barbara. A picture of my younger daughter from a theater production of Junie B. Jones: Jingle Bells, Batman Smells. See, I told you we really loved Junie B.