Barbara Park Author of Junie B Jones Series, Dies at 66

Author of Beloved Children's Series Had Ovarian Cancer

entertainment, books, junie b jones, barbara park

Barbara Park, author of the Junie B. Jones series for children, died Friday at the age of 66. She had been struggling with a long bout of ovarian cancer.

Barbara Park, who lived in Scottsdale, Ariz., was a beloved children’s author. She started writing the Junie B. Jones books in 1992, a series for children about a smart-mouthed protagonist, Junie B. Jones. The character, had an opinion about everyone in her life including her parents, teachers and classmates. Young readers loved  Barbara Park’s series, rewarding her by buying 55 million copies of her series in North America alone.

Park, in an previous interview with Barnes and Noble stated, that it was not difficult to get into the mind of a 6-year-old: “It’s almost embarrassing.  If I’m talking to librarians or teachers who know my books and they say,`How do you do this?’ It’s not a stretch.”

Early on, Park was influenced by J.D. Salinger’s novel The Catcher in the Rye and the oeuvre of Judy Blume, who inspired Park to infuse her characters with humor. But, what was funny was that Park’s readers thought Junie B. Jones was actually Judy Blume herself.

Blume said Sunday, after Park’s death was announced, that she wish she had written the Junie B. Jones series.

Barbara Park had a love of slang and enjoyed giving Junie B. Jones a vocabulary that included plenty of slang words. This didn’t always sit well with teachers and parents, and Barbara Park’s books ended up on the “challenged” book list. What would Junie B. Jones have thought of that, had she been real? Real or not, there are many elements of Junie B. Jones in all of us, and Park was able to keep the loyalty of her readers.

Not only was Park a popular author, but she was a co-founder of the nonprofit agency, Sisters in Survival, to aid ovarian cancer patients in obtaining optimum care if they didn’t have resources to pay. Park said she believed women with ovarian cancer, even if they did not have the funds, still deserved the best treatment for ovarian cancer.

Barbara Park leaves behind a husband and two sons. Considering the loss of literary geniuses during 2013, the following list honors their names.

Authors and Writers Who Died in 2013

  • Tom Clancy
  • Seamus Heaney
  • Elmore Leonard
  • John Graves
  • Helen Thomas
  • Vincenzo Cerami
  • Richard Matheson
  • Michael Hastings
  • Bernard Sahlins
  • Elroy Schwartz
  • Ralph Graves
  • Tom Sharpe
  • Jack Vance
  • Hal McClure
  • Haynes Johnson
  • Eddie Braben
  • Peter Worthington
  • Ron Weaver
  • Dallas Willard
  • Mike Gray
  • Andrew J. Offutt
  • Allen Neuharth
  • Sam Jameson
  • Nick Pollotta
  • Michael France
  • Mickey Rose
  • Roger Ebert
  • Carmine Infantino
  • Basil Copper
  • Jesus Franco
  • Bob Clarke
  • Daniel Hoffman
  • Fay Kanin
  • Don Payne
  • Anthony Lewis
  • Rick Hautala
  • James Herbert
  • Lester Lewis
  • Henry Bromell
  • Ric Menello
  • Henry Ray Abrams
  • Jan Howard Finder
  • Sylvia Smith
  • Wheatley Johnson
  • John Henry Merwin
  • Donald Richie
  • Debbie Ford
  • Glen Boyer
  • Richard J. Collins
  • Barnaby Conrad
  • Norman Udevitz
  • W. Watts Biggers
  • Alan Sharp
  • Margaret Fraser
  • Stanley Karnow
  • Richard G. Stern
  • Tom Jankiewicz
  • Jean Giambrone
  • Jaques Sadoul
  • Michael Triplett
  • John R. Powers
  • Steven Utley
  • Nadeane Walker
  • Richard Ben Cramer
  • Sol Yurick
  • T.S. Cook
  • Richard A. Long


By Juana Poareo


The Mary Sue 


The Washington Post 


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