“There are those who believe that the value of a children's book can be measured only in terms of the moral lessons it tries to impose or the perfect role models it offers. Personally, I happen to think that a book is of extraordinary value if it gives the reader nothing more than a smile or two. In fact, I happen to think that's huge.” – Barbara Park
Born on this date in 1947, Park grew up in New Jersey, studied writing at Rider College and the University of Alabama, and became one of the all-time best-selling writers of children’s literature – most noted for her immensely popular “Junie B. Jones” series. The 30-plus Junie B. Jones books have now sold over 55 million copies worldwide.
Winner of 7 Children's Choice Awards, and 4 Parents' Choice Awards for the series, she also wrote many “Tween” novels, such as The Kid in the Red Jacket and her own personal favorite Mick Harte Was Here. “My criteria for what makes a book an official 'favorite'," she said, “is based almost entirely on how desperately I don't want the story to end. I didn’t want that one to be over.”
Park had a long battle with ovarian cancer and died in 2013. Throughout it all, she kept up her writing and maintained her sense of humor – always looking to the bright (and funny) side of how things were happening. “For 30 years I've gotten to laugh my way through my work,” she said shortly before her death. “For me, that's a dream job.”
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