I never check my phone at 6 a.m., but a text from my daughter caught my eye.
“Barbara Park died.”
A little girl, cuddled on a sofa, deaf to her siblings playing nearby and to her mother’s call for dinner, because of a fictional character, is the best compliment for a writer.
Few adults are able to put themselves in the shoes of their six-year-old self.
Even less can write about what being six means.
Barbara Park did remember being six. She even said that she was six.
Junie B. Jones, the loud-mouthed first grader, wasn’t exactly a role model, and I met some teachers who didn’t like her that much. They found her challenging, I bet.
But to the kids she was a real kid. And they loved her.
When I cleaned my family library this winter, I kept many books from the time my children were very young. I couldn’t find the Junie B. Jones books.
Barbara Park kept Junie B. in first grade for years, before she moved her up a grade.
I wonder if she hasn’t gone to college.