A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Young readers get a funny, kid's eye view of what happens in kindergarten (17 books) and first grade (13 books and counting), including riding to and from school on the bus, doing desk work, and making friends. Note: The books are narrated by Junie B., and author Barbara Park often has her character use incorrect verbiage and grammar for humorous effect.
Young children will see an exaggerated version of themselves in Junie B. Jones; they may even learn to laugh at themselves when they see what funny things happen when Junie B. makes mistakes. They'll see that adults are there to help, and problems often aren't as big as they seem.
Positive Role Models
Adults in Junie B.'s world are minor characters, but they can still be steady, helpful, and kind. Junie B.'s parents may roll their eyes at her antics, but they are as patient and supportive as they can be. Her kindergarten teacher, "Mrs.," is fair and caring. Junie B. is also close to her grandfather, Grampa Miller, who dotes on her and lets her help with household jobs; he makes her feel valued and important.
Violence & Scariness
Junie B. Jones and her classmates sometimes chase or push each other on the playground or on the school bus. In the first book, Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus, Junie B. meets a fellow kindergartner and begins referring to him as the boy whom she "could beat up." But in general, kids in the series talk about fighting more than they actually fight.
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Children call each other "mean" or a "baby," and say they "hate" each other.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Barbara Park's Junie B. Jones series has been a favorite with young readers since the first volume, Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus, was published in 1992. Junie B. is a kindergartner in Books 1-17, and then a first grader, beginning in No. 18, Junie B., First Grader (At Last!). She is funny, strong-willed, and prone to misunderstandings and mishaps. Junie B. sometimes loses her temper and acts out; she might say she hates another kid, and she and her classmates sometimes push or fight, but there's nothing outside of common childish behavior. One aspect of Junie B. that many parents do find objectionable concerns the character's use of poor grammar; for example, Junie B. will say she "holded it" or something was her "favoritest." A 20th Anniversary edition of the first Junie B. Jones book, published in 2012, includes bonus features from the author and illustrator.
Is It Any Good?
The Junie B. Jones books are vastly entertaining to young grade schoolers, who will see an exaggerated, slapstick version of themselves in Barbara Park's funny, sassy main character. These books are just the right level and length for new chapter-book readers, and they offer that quality sometimes lacking in "edutainment" for early graders: big laughs. Denise Brunkus' broadly animated illustrations add to the fun and help tell the story for new readers.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.