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Thursday, September 8, 2011

"Very Slumping:" Things I've Learned from "Junie B. Jones"

Junie B. Jones is adorable. I discovered this during the summer when I read Junie B. Jones books to my kids. For those of you who may not have read them before or know what they’re about, Junie B. is a young girl (Kindergarten /First Grade) who gets into a lot of trouble.

But it’s the way she speaks to her audience while she’s getting into mischief that makes her adorable. This is because her voice is so close to an actual Kindergartener, though an adult, Barbara Park, created her. For example, she says that she “quick runned…” instead of ran, she can’t remember her teacher’s name so she calls her “Mrs. and that’s all,” and her heart gets all “pumpy” when she does something wrong and she’s about to get caught. Not to mention that she eats candy she found on the playground because she “…loves those guys, that’s why.”

One afternoon, I scanned through the titles of the chapters before reading to my kids, and noticed the chapter title, “Very Slumping.” I giggled when I read this, because I knew that something was going to go wrong and she would then feel very sad. But it was the description I loved because I could just picture her with her shoulders slumped and a sad, pouty face. Maybe it’s the mother in me, but sometimes I wish I could just reach through the pages of the book and wipe away her little tears.

From an author’s perspective, it’s easy to see how Barbara Park uses well the techniques of character, voice, dialogue, description, and show vs. tell. All of these are used and balanced well to engage and entertain the audience, which I might add includes everyone in my household from the ages of 8 to 40.

From an adult perspective, I’m thrown into the world of being a little girl again. I remember the promise I made to myself when I was little that I would remember what it was like being young so that when I was a mom, I could understand my children. I’m sad to admit that I very often forget what it’s like to be a kid, or even to be childlike.

But I’ve learned that I’m never too old to:

· Laugh,

· Play everyday (I like to read, write, talk with my kids, spend time with family, and ride on the back of my hubby’s motorcycle.)

· Identify with emotions quickly, especially negative ones, get them out, then get back to happiness or joy (sometimes I have happy feet that like to dance, others times I feel “very slumping”, sometimes it’s in-between.)

· Forgive easily

· Be humble, submissive, and obedient to authority (God)

· Have a routine or schedule

· Learn everyday

· Do chores/work/service

· Be grateful

When I do these things, I have my happiest days. When I don’t, I have not-so-happy days. And who knows. Maybe on those days when I’m feeling “very slumping”, God is giggling at my pouty face and wishes to reach through the clouds and wipe away my tears.

2 comments:

Michael Offutt said...

It's difficult for me to read things written with such a disconnect to my own life and my own voice. I think I'd find a kindergarten-aged protagonist a little irritating and half the time, I would not understand what is going on. I do agree with you that the author is brilliant to be able to write this way and you are also brilliant in your own way to being able to understand it so. It's almost like you speak a second language that I would just get frustrated in learning.

Abby said...

I haven't read a lot of these because my oldest is a boy. However, my daughter (who could be Junie B's twin) just entered kindergarten! I think I should get some of these to read to her at night. I'm sure she would love them and I know I would. This is an awesome post!