BEST BRAT (2007)

Barbara Park

Suddenly, it seems, Arizona is home to some of the trendiest children's authors around. Stephenie Meyer, author of the oh-so-addictive vampire romance series that begins with Twilight, lives here. Robin Brande, whose Evolution, Me & Other Freaks of Nature inspired Changing Hands bookstore to have its first-ever book-launch party, hails from Tucson.

Brande and Meyer write books for young adults. There's another notable local writer who sets her sights a little lower, age-wise at least. Barbara Park created the character Junie B. Jones, a little girl who — as in her fictional home and kindergarten/first-grade classrooms — inspires both love and dread among her followers.

Thing is, Junie B. is a first-class brat. She's not rotten to the core, she's just a troublemaker — and she's got bad grammar (well, the grammar of a kindergartener), which is the real sticking point for a lot of parents and teachers, who have raised such a ruckus about her they made the pages of the New York Times, not long ago.

We're sticklers for proper talk (in fact, we've been known to "fix" Junie's errors as we read them to our own 6-year-old), but we're also here to say that we loooooooove Junie B. Jones. The reason is simple. Our kid loves her. She'll pick Junie B. over TV, for crying out loud. How often does that happen in your house?

So keep up the good work, Barbara Park! (A little bird tells us you're just as mischievous as your character, so maybe you get a kick out of all the controversy.) We hope Junie B. makes it to second grade before our kid does, so we can continue to follow her antics 'til we're ready for Meyer and Brande — with some early Judy Blume tossed in for good measure, in between.


All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >