[Book Review] Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus (Junie B. Jones, #1) by Barbara Park


Meet the World's Funniest Kindergartner

Remember when it was scary to go to school?

'Cause it was your first day and you didn't know anything. Meet Junie B. Jones, kindergartner. She's so scared of the school bus and the meanies on it that when it's time to go home, she doesn't.

I don't know if Junie B. is the world's funniest kindergartner, but she certainly seems to be the most controversial. Because while children and adults alike seem to find Junie B., her bratty antics, and her childish naivety hilarious, there also seems to be a surprisingly large group of parents who decry Junie B. as a "bad role model" for using the words "stupid", "hate", and "dumb", "speaking with incorrect grammar", and "having a bad attitude", among other complaints. It's the most ridiculous thing I've ever seen; the sheer disrespect of these parents and teachers toward their children and students blows my mind. Do they honestly believe that their children are so easily influenced and incapable of independent thought that reading the Junie B. Jones series will somehow deconstruct their personalities and turn them into hooligans?

If "dumb" is the equivalent of a swear to these people,
I genuinely feel sorry for their children.
Now, I don't mean to say that Junie B. Jones is an amazing series by any stretch of the imagination. Junie B. is a protagonist that will, in her ultimate purpose of making children laugh, will grate on the nerves of some readers. Because yes, she is a huge brat. Yes, her speech and behavior is immature. Yes, she is childishly aggressive and quite naive. But that is what makes her funny. That is the reason so many thousands of teachers, librarians, parents, and children fell in love with her. That's why the Junie B. Jones books are still being read and published in the 2010s.

Junie B. Jones is not under any circumstances supposed to be a role model for anyone, and I am astounded that there are so many adults who can't recognize a fact that's so obvious to their children.

Junie B. Jones is funny not in spite of her misbehavior, but because of it. She amuses kids because the way she acts surprises them. She is an over-the-top character because she is meant to amuse the youngest of readers, and her stories--if the case of Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus is indicative of the rest of the series--end with Junie B. learning a lesson about why her behavior was out of line.

Doesn't that make the series a good influence?

So while I will concede that the humor of the Junie B. Jones series is definitely not for everyone--I personally am not a huge fan of "bratty kid humor", though I still found the series entertaining as a child and adult--it's also not going to "ruin" anyone's precious little angel. It's just a book about a girl who doesn't want to ride the school bus.

And really, if you're scandalized that a book titled Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus had the word "stupid" in it, I really can't help you.

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