On Barbara Park

You know, I hesitated to write this post today, because it’s been five days since Barbara Park died, making it “old news” in internet terms, even if it is the first chance I’ve had to sit and write anything about it. How ridiculous is it that that even crossed my mind? Sometimes the effect the internet has on the way we think about things doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. As if five days means anything at all to the people most feeling her loss.

junie bWe were all very sad at our house to hear that Barbara Park had died. For a long stretch when my daughter was little, Junie B Jones was our nightly companion when we read together at bedtime. We laughed with her and talked about her and made special trips to the bookstore to buy the next one in the series. Junie B., First Grader: Aloha-ha-ha was my daughter’s first experience, though certainly not her last, of having to wait, not always patiently, for the release of a longed-for book. 

My girl has long since outgrown Junie B. But for a couple of years, these were our go-to books, favourites we read together and she read on her own over and over again. Junie B. gave my often serious, then very shy little girl time to explore her silly side and gave us lots of bedtime laughter.

Barbara Park reportedly said, “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.” As a writer, a reader, and a mother, I couldn’t agree more. As Jim C. Hines reminded me this year at SiWC, stories matter. Barbara Park, your stories mattered in our house. Thank you for that. We’re very sorry that you’re gone.


  1. Jennifer Landels
    Nov 26, 2013

    Thanks for posting this, Kathy — I hadn’t even heard till now! Junie B was a big part of our household, and every once in a while I catch my teenage twins reading excerpts to each other and giggling insanely. Sad news indeed.

    • kathykenzie
      Nov 26, 2013

      Awww, how cool that they still read excerpts to each other. I love that.