Wait…Junie B. Jones…Don’t Go
One of the things I shared with my son this summer was my love for Junie B Jones. I told him all about when I was around 6 years old, one of my trips to the school library culminated in me and Junie B. becoming fast friends. A lot of my friends at that age were between the front and back covers of a book. The day this particular friendship started, it went on for, well – it’s still intact!
So, we joined the Junie B. Jones fan club and he received his first book in the starter kit. I got the Parent Newsletter, which I still receive every month. This month’s newsletter came with all of these goodies:
My 9-year-old son did not want to tell his dude friends that his mom was making him read Junie B. Jones. At first. But then we started reading the books, and he really loved hearing what Junie and her friends were up to NOW. He found out that there were more friends to meet in here world than just this “girl that Mom loves”.
That’s why when I found out Barbara Park, the author of one of my favorite childhood series, has passed away.
Starting in 1992, Park wrote more than 30 illustrated chapter books about the smart-mouthed girl with an ungrammatical opinion of everybody — her parents, her teachers, her friends and her classmate and enemy for life, May, who is so mean she won’t even acknowledge Junie’s middle initial (which stands for Beatrice: “Only I don’t like Beatrice. I just like B and that’s all,” Junie warned).
I know Junie B. Jones and all that she meant to me will continue as long as a book is on a shelf, or digitized, or a movie version is being made. Or as long as a parent shares with a child the magic of a world created in the pages between the covers of a Barbara Park book. But knowing that the creator of the magic has left this earth made me stop for a moment and say “Wait…Junie B. Jones…don’t go.” I never wrote an email or a comment to say how much I appreciated every time I got lost in the words – some of them that never even existed before they were in your mind. I didn’t take the opportunity to write a send a letter to the publisher regaling the times I re-read one, or two, or okay 4 or 5 of your books just to find a familiar place to be as a 9 or 10 year old misfit. I guess what I didn’t get to say was thank you.
Today I am grateful for Barbara Park, as an author, and as the voice of a 6 year old posse that means the world to me; and now to my 9 year old son.
Did you read any Barbara Park books? How about your children? Are there any other authors that mean a lot to you? I love to read your comments!