Suzanne Perez Tobias: Thanks for the adventures, Junie B. Jones and Barbara Park

11/20/2013 12:00 AM

08/08/2014 10:19 AM

Dear first-grade journal,

A terrible thing happened. Now my nose is all sniffling and drippity, and my eyes got tears in them. ’Cause I have sadness in me, that’s why.

The lady who wrote all the Junie B. Jones books died last week, and those things were my very favoritest books in the whole wide world.

Junie B. Jones filled me with glee.

(Glee is when you run. And jump. And skip. And clap. And dance on top of the dining room table. Then your mother takes you down from the table, and she carries you to your room for a time-out. Time-outs kill the glee.)

The lady who wrote those wonderful books was called Barbara Park, and she was a genius, I tell you! On account of Junie B. Jones is the funnest, most adorable girl I ever even saw in a book.

HOW MANY CHILDREN THINK JUNIE B. JONES IS FABULOUS? RAISE YOUR HANDS!

HOW MANY PARENTS WOULD RATHER READ A JUNIE B. JONES BOOK THAN A GROWN-UP BOOK ANY DAY OF THE WEEK? PLEASE COME FORWARD!

That girl had all kinds of adventures and predicaments. One time she lost her tooth, and another time she got glasses. One time she rode the school bus, and another time her Grampa Frank Miller cooked waffles and let her pour her own syrup, and he didn’t even yell whoa! whoa! whoa!

Another time Junie B. (the B. stands for Beatrice) copied a classmate’s homework and got in BIG TROUBLE, MISSY! And another time she learned that “Finders keepers, losers weepers” is not the actual rule for life, so she dropped the wonderful pen she found into the lost-and-found box in Principal’s office.

I learned a lot from that silly monkey.

Some people don’t like Junie B. Jones, on account of she doesn’t have the bestest grammar and sometimes she has disrespectful behavior. (Disrespectful behavior is when you say things are stupid – like your stupid baby brother Ollie, who smells like P.U. – or when you call your grandparents Frank and Helen.)

Some people say Junie B. Jones shouldn’t even be allowed at school because, and I quote, “The reading scores of children raised on this nonsense are abysmal.”

When I heard that comment I did a huffy breath and made squinty eyes. Because first, I don’t even know that word “abysmal.” And second, YOU PEOPLE NEED TO LIGHTEN UP!

Because Ms. Park didn’t write those books for the Queen of England, you know. She wrote them for kids in kindergarten and first grade and second grade and third grade. And even grown-ups. Because who doesn’t love a funny story when their crybaby kids are tucked in bed and scared of hidey things and begging and begging for another book?

So anyways, when I heard Ms. Park died I did a big sigh. ’Cause I am heartsick, that’s why. ( Heartsick is the grown-up word for when your heart is sick.) Then I went to my bookshelf speedy quick, and I found some old Junie B. Jones books and opened the covers and read them again. And guess what?

Junie B. Jones will live forever, that’s what!

Then my heart got very glad. And I smiled real big. Because of reading, and because of Barbara Park, and because of Junie B. Jones, who is more delightful than pink high tops.

Your friend,

Suzanne P. Tobias

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