One the most remarkable modern voices in children's literature passed away this weekend. Barbara Park was the author of dozens of picture books and middle grade novels, before making the leap to immortality with the creation of Junie B. Jones, everyone's favorite kindergartner. With 28 titles, and over 50 million copies sold, it remains one of the most popular series of all time for elementary school age kids. But at the age of 66, the voice behind this hilarious character has fallen silent.
On my Goodreads author page, I list Junie B. as one of my "influences" and for good reason. I first read Junie back in 1999, and was hooked from the first page. Before that, I had never considered, or even thought about writing chapter books. The series inspired me in a way that few books have. It opened my eyes to the idea of capturing the humor that comes naturally to kids. I owe my ability to find the child's voice within me to Barbara Park.
It's always sad when a storyteller is taken from us, but there's a comfort in knowing their spirit lives on in the stories they've left behind. Barbara will forever be with us, and will forever be entertaining children through one unforgettable character.
I'll leave off by sharing one the funniest things ever written, which can be found in Junie B. Jones is a Graduation Girl as Junie helps with her class graduation poem:
"Roses are Red,
Violets are Blue,
Graduation is Here,
And Your Feet Smell Like Stink"