Written by: Barbara Park
Illustrated by: Denise Brunkus
Genre: Realistic Fiction, Humor
Grade Level: K-3
The Junie B. Jones series is made up of short chapter books documenting the life and problems of Junie B, a little girl who has just started kindergarten. I bought all of the kindergarten series (and some of the “Junie B., First Grader” series) from a garage sale a year or two ago. I decided to review three books to start out with, as the books are so short and easy to get through.
Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus
In the first book of the series, Junie B. (she hates it when people forget the “B.”) starts kindergarten. The book begins with Junie B. and her mother meeting with her teacher, Mrs. (Junie B. can’t remember her last name), and looking around the classroom. Junie B. finds out she will have to ride the bus to and from school, which makes her really nervous. On her first day she tries to make friends on the bus ride to school, only to fail miserably. During the school day one of the other students tells her about the terrible things that apparently happen on the bus, so when the end of the day rolls around Junie B. hides until everyone leaves. She then goes on an adventure around the empty school, which eventually ends when she calls 911 because she is about to have a bathroom emergency.
Junie B. Jones and a Little Monkey Business
In this book, Junie B. Jones is getting a little brother. The morning after he is born, her grandmother comes home and tells her that he is the “cutest little monkey” she has ever seen… so Junie B. goes to school and tells everyone that her little brother is a monkey! When her friends start competing to be the first to see her monkey brother, Junie B. takes advantage and starts collecting “gifts” from them. She is eventually caught and gets in trouble. Eventually, Junie B. learns that her brother isn’t really a monkey, and she decides that having a little brother might not be that bad.
Junie B. Jones and her Big Fat Mouth
In the third installment of the Junie B. Jones series, Junie B. is having a bad week as her “big mouth” keeps getting her into trouble. Not only does she get in trouble for talking in class, but her class is having a Job Day and she doesn’t know what she wants to be. On the bus she ends up telling everyone she has a great job in mind, when really she has nothing. Eventually, she decides that she wants to be a janitor. This decision at first leads her classmates to mock her, but in the end Junie B. earns the support of the girls in her class.
I’m a bit torn on these books. On one hand, Junie B. gets on my nerves so much! On the other hand, she is kinda adorable, and the situations she faces are relevant to children in the primary grades. Being scared of the bus (and the first day of school), getting a new baby brother or sister, and not knowing what she wants to be when she grows up are all situations that children can relate to.
I really thought the books were excellent. The writing was fantastic, and really made you feel like you were in the shoes of a kindergarten student. The illustrations, while not the main focus of the story, are spaced perfectly and really enhance the reading experience.
All in all, I really enjoyed these books and I plan to read more of them in the future. I would definitely like to use them in my future classroom, even though Junie B. gets on my last nerve at times.
I give the Junie B. Jones books four stars.