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Junie B, First Grader: Boss of Lunch

Page history last edited by Leanne Zotos 9 years, 3 months ago



Plot Summary

 Junie B. Jones, the main character, is a first grader in Room One.  Junie B. is beyond excited because she and her mother ordered a new lunchbox with an assortment of birds on the cover and a thermos to match.  Junie B. brings the lunchbox to school and is all sorts of excited to eat out of it as opposed to her boring old brown paper bag.  She is just so excited that she cannot stop looking at it during class, which is against her teacher, Mr. Scary's rules.  Like all classrooms, there is always a dilemma, and for Junie B., it is May.  May is constantly tattle-telling on Junie B. for various things, and today it is for sneaking peeks at her lunch box.  May thinks that bought lunches are the "cool" way to go and Junie supports brought lunches. After an uneventful debut of Junie B's new lunchbox, she begins to doubt her claim after feeling out of the loop, for she and another classmate were the only students to not have a sugar cookie for lunch. Before long Junie B. finds herself at the pity of Mrs. Gutzman, the lunch lady, who proposes that Junie B. should be her helper in the cafeteria the next day.  Junie B. receives a permission slip to be a helper, to which she brings home to her parents begging for their approval, only to receive the answer of her dreams.  


     Junie B. anticipates being a lunch maker to be amazing, but when everything falls to shambles, she feels "crumbly inside" and no longer the "Boss of Lunch". Her quick to judge attitude places her in a predicament between being loyal to the Mrs. Gutzman or to her friends, which causes Room One to be worse than ever. Just when Junie B. feels that May and her other classmates won the dispute over brought and bought; someone comes to save the day!  In this contemporary realistic fiction story Junie B. transitions through typical childhood experiences such as, getting in trouble by the teacher and helping out in the cafeteria, both of which expose her to a new lesson learned. 




Recommended Age:

Kindergarden to 3rd Grade 



 Barbara Park



Denise Brunkus 



"I rolled my eyes way back in my head.  'Cause that was not even the truth, of course."

-Junie B. Jones

Park page 73





Textual Elements                           




     Junie B., Boss of Lunch is an example of a realistic fiction novel.  This is obvious because it is a story that is not true (made up by the author), with characters that do not actually exist.  With that said, it contains a realistic story line.  This means it is something that could happen in real life.  Junie B. is just a normal first grade student, who has loving parents, and sometimes gets into trouble at school, this could be the life of any first grader.



     There are many interesting characters in this story.  The main character, Junie B. Jones, is a first grader, with a say it the way it is attitude, that tends to gets her into some trouble.  She has a lot to say, and writes about it in her journal at school.  Her best friends are some of the children in Room One; there is Herb, Junie’s best friend, who also is not very fond of May, some of her other best friends are Jose and Lennie.  There is also Sheldon, who is the only person who also brings his lunch to school, although he tends to get on Junie B.’s nerves, because he is allergic to everything!  Lastly there is May, a girl in her class, who Junie does not particularly get along with.  In the words of Junie B., “May is the tattletale girl who sits next to me.  I do not actually care for her” (Park 3).  The pair often gets into many arguments, which have to get broken up by their teacher.  In this story, May and Junie B. are arguing over which is better, bought or brought lunches, Junie B. thinks that brought lunches are best, whereas May thinks the opposite.  Junie’s teacher is Mr. Scary; she says she thinks that he made up his name because he is actually very nice.  Mr. Scary often has to break up arguments between Junie and May, and has to be very strict with the girls when they are constantly tattle telling on each other.  Mr. Scary has his class keep journals, where they get to write about anything they would like, and throughout the story readers are able to see some of Junie B.’s thoughts about her new lunch box, what it was like to be a lunch helper, and all the rules to being the boss of cookies.  Junie B. Jones lives with her parents, Robert and Susan Jones, and her little brother Ollie.  In the words of Junie B., “Ollie is ten months old.  He cannot skip or play tag or color.  So far, I am not that satisfied with him.”  There is also her grandpa Frank Miller, who told Junie that a baby owl is called an Owlet, and a baby eagle is called an eaglet, when she got her new lunchbox and thermos.  




     This story takes place in Junie B.’s everyday life.  For the most part, the story shows Junie in her classroom at school, Room One, interacting with her teacher Mr. Scary and her fellow classmates, and in her elementary school’s cafeteria, eating lunch and being Mrs. Gutzman’s helper!  Other parts of the story take place at the Jones’ household, in their backyard and around their dinner table when Junie B. is asking her parents to sign her permission slip to help in the cafeteria.  


Point of View:

     The narrative is in first person, from Junie B.’s point of view.  The story would not be nearly as funny or entertaining as it is if it were in third person point of view.  Junie B. Jones has such funny ways of saying things, and funny mannerisms that the story just would not work any other way.  Junie B makes comments such as “I’ll tell you why, sister! Cause I’m keeping hair and germs out of the tuna noodle stinkle! That’s why!” (Park 64), and “I rolled my eyes way up to the sky.  ‘Cause Daddy always has to be in on everything” (Park 38), and lastly, “’Please wipe your nose’…I handed him my napkin.  ‘Blow.  And I mean it,’ I said” (Park 16).  These witty comments allow us to fully see Junie B.’s spunky personality, a personality that would not shine through if she did not tell the story.      



The theme of this story is responsibility.  When her favorite lunch lady, Mrs. Gutzman, asks Junie B. to be her helper in the cafeteria, she is more than excited!  She got to greet students, keep the napkins staked up, and to keep the big counter wiped off.  Junie B. realized that it was a lot of hard work, but that it was rewarding in the end to give her classmates cookies and be the boss of cookies!   



     "Some of the children watched me eat.  They made growly faces at me."

-Junie B. Jones 

Park Page 68



Artistic Elements 


     Denise Brunkus is the illustrator of the Junie B. Jones series uses pencil and paper as her media. Denise's style of art appears to be naive art, for the reasons that it looks to be as if an amater artist constructed the designs. Although this is not a traditional picture book, the overall composition of the book has appropriate domiance, balance and proportion within the drawings. The illustrations are bordered by a thick black box, however Denise chooses to allow her drawings to escape the border of the box, I think a true representation of Junie B. Jones as a character, never conforming to guidelines. The illustrations by Denise use a thin line to outline the simplicity of the characters in the scene, followed by an almost cartoon shape to the characters, parallel to the personality of Junie B. As far as color, there is none, but I feel that the lack of color is replaced by the vividness of texture. When viewing the illustrations, I feel as if the bushes are real, her backpack is squishy, and her hair is coarse. Through this overall design, the images appropriately agree with the written text to further carry out the meaning of the text. Another key element in the depictions of Junie B. Jones is portions of Junie B's diary are expressed in a child-like style with errors and stick like letters. The pages pictures do not run through the seam of the book, the text is trim size, and the illustrations are borders that do not fully bleed to the edges of the book, leaving some negative space to break up the eye movement of the pages.

An example of Junie B. Jones' handwriting, child-like style with stick like letters.  




"Mother! Mother!  I'm going to be a helper!  I'm going to be a helper!"

-Junie B. Jones

Park page 35


Critical Analysis: 

     I personally believe that Junie B. Jones books are a great way for young readers to get interested in reading.  Junie B. Jones is such an amusing and interesting young girl, who learns many good things along her path through life.  There are many interesting ways that teachers can incorporate the Junie B. Jones series into their classrooms, including lesson plans!  I think Junie B. Jones is very relatable for young children, and it is interesting to see how she does things.  It is the perfect book for young children that are just starting to read on their own, it is an easier read for them, but still has the feel of a chapter book. 

     Many teachers and parents have issues with the Junie B. Jones books, even the American Library Association has it on its list of Top 100 banned or challenged books from 2000-2009.  This was discussed in an article featured in the New York Times titled Is Junie B. Jones Talking Trash?.  The article talks about how many people have issues with the fact that the books contain improper grammar and spelling.  Junie B. often says her adverbs without the suffix -ly and constantly forgets to add the -ed ending to past tense verbs, so they often come out like funnest.  Also, parents have issues with Junie B.’s behavior, she is constantly talking back to her teachers, calls people mean names such as stupid or dumb, and gets into some trouble along the way.  In this article, parents tell the New York Times that they had banned Junie B. Jones books from their home.       

     I disagree with this, I believe that Junie B. Jones is a good role model for young children, she is far from perfect, makes mistakes, learns a new lesson everyday, is trying to understand the rules of first grade, and loves her family very much.  Although she sometimes acts out, it does not go unpunished by either her parents or a teacher.  I believe parents and teachers should think less about what the children are going to LEARN from the book, and more about if the children are going to be able to enjoy the book.  These books are aimed at students who are around the ages of kindergarten to second graders, who have trouble finding books that they can actually manage to read on their own.  Today, it is so hard to get children to sit down and read a book, so if they become interested in the Junie B. Jones series, why should a parent take that joy of reading away from them?  Would you rather your child read a somewhat challenged book, or not read at all?  I believe that not everything a child reads needs to be educational, it should just be something they learn to enjoy doing on their own.  Children will learn the proper grammar and spelling in school, and parents could also turn this into a lesson (what did Junie B. do wrong in this sentence?) if they are extremely concerned.  Also, if children are just reading for fun, they most likely are not going to pick up on this improper grammar or spelling.  Overall, I'm sure there are other children's books, children's TV shows and movies, and even children's peers that do not use the most proper English at all times, but the children watching still can speak properly and will not be tainted for their experiences with them.  Overall, I think Junie B., First Grader: Boss of Lunch is a great book, extremely entertaining, and hilariously funny; although criticized by some, I would recommend this book to anyone! 




Play Games with Junie B. Jones!!! 

Click here! 









Parks, Barbara. Junie B. First Grader: Boss of Lunch. Denise Brunkus. New York: Random House, Inc., 2002.






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