Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus by Barbara Park

Most kids LOVE her.

As an adult, you'll either LOVE her or HATE her.

Junie B. is mouthy, mean, self-centered, imaginative, and funny. She is always getting in trouble. She blurts out whatever is on her mind. She says stupid things. She does stupid things. As a grade 3 student said, "She doesn't even know she's being rude and that makes it funny." Another adds, "She's so dumb it's funny and she doesn't speak right." Another girl laughs hard agreeing, "Uh-huh, she always says run-ned instead of run."

Junie B. meets her teacher for the first time and hollers at her when she forgets to say the B. on her name. Junie B. sticks her tongue out at kids, stamps her foot when she doesn't get her way, and doesn't share. The adults mostly ignore her and don't correct her behavior often. The other kindergartners are not nice to each other as well. On the bus when Junie B. tries to sit down a girl tells her she's saving it for a friend. Junie B.'s feelings are hurt and she responds like a lot of youngsters do - she makes a face at the girl. Junie B. is frightened of riding the bus and while she gets to school, she's terrified of taking the bus home, especially after a girl tells her boys will dump milk on her head if she's on the bus. Terrified, she crawls in the closet at the end of the day and hides until the school is empty. Not a bit scared, the feisty Junie B. has an adventure using her imagination and exploring the school.

Some parents and teachers vehemently hate these books because of the bad grammar, bad choices,and  lack of adult intervention teaching good behavior. Others are fine with it. One grade 1 teacher said that when he reads it out loud to the class the students like to pick out the bad words, laugh at her outrageous behavior, and he uses it as a way to discuss kindness (as opposed to the unkind Junie B.). He also asks the students if Junie B. is a real person or a fiction person to remind them she's not real. I do like how Junie B. uses her imagination by playing teacher or nurse. She also makes up words such as how she felt squeezy about riding the bus instead of queasy.

In general, kindergartners are learning to socialize. They push each other in line. They follow the rules. They call each other names. They play tug-of-war with library books. Sometimes they share, sometimes they don't. I like kindergartners. They love stories. They are eager to please. They blurt their thoughts out. They say outrageous things. They give lots of hugs and hum with energy. They also yell, push, cry, and budge in line. Junie B. Jones reflects more of the negative than positive side of being a kindergartner. Whether kids relate to her inappropriate behavior, enjoy being "bad" vicariously through her, feel superior because they know they would never be that stupid, or are just plain entertained by her antics... I don't know. I do know that she is an extreme character and I did find it pretty funny when she licked her shoes to make them shiny. You'll have to judge for yourself. Just don't lick the book cover clean. Ew.

Reading level 3.3

4 out of 5 Smileys

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