Barbara Park

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Barbara's Passions

Barbara Park is a well known author, best known for writing the Junie B. Jones series. She was originally interested in becoming a high school history and political science teacher; she graduated with a degree in secondary education. Soon after receiving that degree, she found her calling to be in writing instead. According to her website, she wrote roughly 45 books in her lifetime. Another passion she had was granting the wishes children had made through the Make-a-Wish Foundation that were directed to her. She started a nonprofit organization called Sisters in Survival that offers financial assistance to those diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer.


Under the Q and A section of her website, she talks about she doesn't write much from inspiration but rather from the ideas she gets when she sits down and thinks. She views writing as more of a job (that she enjoys). Her stories generally begin with a vague story line and an idea of what the characters would be like. Then she'll branch off from there and let the story flow out. All of her works are original and not based on an event in her life.

Unfortunately, she is no longer writing any books because she passed away in 2013.

Author's Advice

This is also something she directly addressed in her Q and A section; she recommends young writers to read a lot, write a lot, rewrite a lot, and to love what they're doing. On an interview, she talked about how because she views writing as a job, she thinks anyone can be an author as long as they're good at it. She used the example that she cant be a neurosurgeon.

Interview with the Author

Barbara Park was asked by TeachingBooks why she was drawn to the topic of a family moving across the country (it was the main idea behind The Kid in the Red Jacket). She shared the fact that her husband was in service so her family had to move a lot. She was aware that it was hard for her children and that's where she got the idea for that.

TEACHINGBOOKS: The Kid in the Red Jacket, a middle grade novel, is about Howard Jeeter—a boy who has to adjust to a new environment when his family moves across the country. What drew you to this topic?

BARBARA PARK: We live in a mobile society, and many families move around a lot. Parents do kids a disservice when they say, "Oh, children will always bounce back."Since my husband was in the service, our family relocated often and we moved the kids to different schools. One of the most difficult things I learned a child has to do is to walk into that classroom as the new kid.

I had a lot of fun writing The Kid in the Red Jacket, particularly with the character of Molly Vera Thompson, the little girl who tries to be friends with Howard. There's nothing that she won't say. It's very freeing to write a character like that. She inspired me to have Junie B. do the same thing; she is really Junie's prototype.

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Bibliographical Information

List of books:

1. Almost Starring Skinnybones (Sequal to Skinnybones)

2. Beanpole

3. Buddies

4. Dear God, Help!!! Love, Earl:

5. Don't Make Me Smile:

6. Dumb Bunny:

7. Junie B. Jones and a Little Monkey Business:

8. Junie B. Jones and Her Big Fat Mouth:

9. Junie B. Jones and Some Sneaky Peeky Spying:

10. Junie B. Jones and That Meanie Jim's Birthday:

11. Junie B. Jones and the Mushy Gushy Valentime:

12. Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus:

13. Junie B. Jones and the Yucky Blucky Fruitcake:

14. Junie B. Jones Has a Monster Under Her Bed:

15. Junie B. Jones Has a Peep in Her Pocket:

16. Junie B. Jones Is (Almost) a Flower Girl:

17. Junie B. Jones Is a Beauty Shop Guy:

18. Junie B. Jones Is a Graduation Girl:

19. Junie B. Jones Is a Party Animal:

20. Junie B. Jones Is Captain Field Day:

21. Junie B. Jones Is Not a Crook:

22. Junie B. Jones Loves Handsome Warren:

23. Junie B. Jones Smells Something Fishy:

24. Junie B.'s Essential Survival Guide to School:

25. Junie B.'s These Puzzles Hurt My Brain!:

26. Junie B., First Grader (at last!):

27. Junie B., First Grader: Aloha-ha-ha!:

28. Junie B., First Grader: Boo...and I Mean It!:

29. Junie B., First Grader: Boss of Lunch:

30. Junie B., First Grader: Cheater Pants:

31. Junie B., First Grader: Jingle Bells, Batman Smells! (P.S. So Does May):

32. Junie B., First Grader: One-Man Band:

33. Junie B., First Grader: Toothless Wonder:

34. Junie B., First Grader: Turkeys We Have Loved and Eaten (and Other Thankful Stuff):

35. Maxie, Rosie, and Earl-Partners in Grime: Partners in Grime [Geek Chronicles 1]

36. Mick Harte was Here:

37. Operation: Dump the Chump

38. Psssst! It's Me... the Bogeyman:

39. Rosie Swanson: Fourth-Grade Geek for President [Geek Chronicles 2]

40. Shipwrecked:

41. Skinnybones:

42. The Graduation of Jake Moon:

43. The Kid in the Red Jacket:

All of Barbara's books are junior fiction. Beanpole is a junior realistic fiction book.

Barbara's target audience for her books include elementary students and middle school students but are primarily elementary students.

I searched Junie B. Jones on Goodreads and scrolled through at the results to see the ratings. They're all around 4 stars. This series is the most popular works by Barbara. The amount of ratings on Goodreads for the books range from 4,000 to 16,000. I know all of my friends have heard of the books and most of them have read it too.

Book Review

Review by School Library Journal Review

Gr 4-6 Park commiserates with the problems of pre-adolescence in this first-person narrative of ten-year-old Howard Jeeter, whose life is temporarily destroyed by a cross-country move to a new family home. Howard knows what awaits him as he drives east from Arizona with his insensitive parents, bawling baby brother, and smelly basset hound to a historic house in Massachusetts: he will be a vulnerable and possibly despised ``new kid.'' His first contact on Chester Pewe St. is Molly, an intrusive first-grader with red hair ``styled kind of like Bozo's.'' Her desperate attempts to be friendly drive Howard to distraction and also make him anxious that his new classmates won't accept him if he hangs around a first grader. Howard's coming to terms with Molly's need for friendship is a particularly well-done part of the novel. As in Operation: Dump the Chump (1982) and Beanpole (1983, both Knopf), Park writes in a witty and bittersweet style about the awkward, super-sensitive age of early adolescence; her humor both reflects and sharpens the sensibilities of her readers in the areas of family and friend relationships. Another first-rate addition by this author to the middle-grade popular reading shelf. Linda Wicher, Lincolnwood Public Library, Ill. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From this book review of the book Kid in the Red Jacket, it seems like Barbara Park is also a respected author in the realm of literature.

Analysis of Author's Craft

Even if it wasn't for the Junie B. Jones series, because Barbara's books aren't directed to one type of audience, I would say her contribution to children's literature is fairly large. Her books are also relatable. Her word choice in the books that she writes are very easy for students to read. For example, in The Kid in the Red Jacket, the story is told through the main character, Howard Jeeter so the word choice is very simple and casual. The story is about him moving from Arizona to Massachusetts and his struggles with that move so it's very relatable to kids who might've just moved or know they will be moving.

In Rosie Swanson: Fourth-Grade Geek for President, Rosie is the narrator and the language in that book is very casual as well.

Curriculum Connections

I looked on my Ipad and phone (my phone is an Android) and I was unable to find any apps that were related to Barbara Park nor Junie B. Jones which I found to be very surprising. However, on Barbara's website, there are games and activities available that are related to Junie B. Jones.

In the interview I found online and quoted earlier, there was a question asking if the author could incorporate the Junie B. Jones series into their curriculum. Barbara talked about how they are often used ESL classrooms because it is a good way for students to be introduced into the English language but also learn the way people here talk. She also said she heard that they were going to be used in Indonesia except with incorrect words that are circled so it can be used as a learning activity.