Paperback Throwback

Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus

Welcome to Paperback Throwback. Each week, I highlight a book from my ever-growing collection of older paperbacks, ‘90s and prior. Come check out everything from Zebra’s line of horror to Scholastic’s preteen Apple Paperbacks, and everything in between— you’ll know them by their stylishly cheesy covers, flashy plots, and cheap prices.

Join me on this stroll down Literary Memory Lane. Stops include Sweet Valley High, Fear Street, and anywhere else mass market paperbacks may be lurking.

For today’s selection, the B stands for Beatrice.

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

The Book

The first day of school can be terrifying for anyone, and kindergartner Junie B. Jones is no exception. The rules are strange. The kids are meanies. And then there’s the bus. After a disastrous morning ride, Junie B. Jones decides she’d rather stay at school than ride it home— and that’s exactly what she does.

Some Thoughts

Fictional kindergartners don’t get any funnier than Junie B. Jones. Brash, hyper, and steadfast in her own logic, she manages to get herself into frustrating situations while still remaining charming. Here, her mission is to stay in school and not, under any circumstances, ride the bus. Really, who hasn’t fantasized about staying at school after hours?

The word choices and character attitudes in this series have been debated to death. Junie jumbles grammar rules while tossing sassy one-liners peppered with “stupid”, “dumb”, and “hate”. For some, these features mark the series as literary garbage. However, for me, this unapologetic crassness feels refreshingly honest— after all, no child always behaves perfectly. Junie navigates on the extreme end of behavior, with a wink and a nudge to the reader that, yes, she’s over-the-top. Her behavior is funny, but oh, so wrong.

Barbara Park struck gold when she tapped into Junie’s voice, and this first in the series is wacky perfection.

Author’s Website | Goodreads

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19 thoughts on “Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus”

      1. Right?! I crack up every time we read the Halloween one and she wants to be the clown, lol. I just die when she’s running around yelling “I’m Squirty the Clown” and laugh so hard I can’t breathe…I have no idea why it’s so funny to me, but it is! She’s a riot! I wish they’d make a Junie B movie.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. It really is! I would love to see a theatrical adaptation; I’ve missed out! We should petition for one! As much I love Ramona, I didn’t love the movie and think Junie B would be better…or even a series on Netflix so they could do every book, LOL!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. It really would be! My daughter loves that one and the one with the squeeze a burp in it ( I think that one is the Jingle Bells Batman Smells one)…that one cracks her up. Someone needs to write Netflix about this!

        Liked by 1 person

  1. My now grown daughter loved (!) Junie B Jones books. For some reason I have the phrase, “Junie b Jones, will you please come here now!” running through my head so I must have read that over and over at some point. Thanks for the throw-back memories.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I was never caught up in the Junie B Jones books, but I certainly remember the heated debates over their propriety. I am an advocate of exposing kids to a variety of books because there is some book out there that will appeal to the right child at the right time. If a child likes Junie B. Jones, but the grammar and language offend you, let the child enjoy the book and then use it as a teachable moment! The books probably are successful because children can identify with the rebellious nature of Junie.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Junie B was always a hit for read alouds in the library with the primary kids. I never bought any of these ones for my kids, but I think I have a couple from my old class library. I think my grandson (who is in kindergarten) would love these. Thanks for the great throwback Christopher.

    Liked by 1 person

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