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Juvenile Books Author of the Month
Barbara Park

21 April 1947 -- ???

Barbara Tidswell was born on April 21, 1947 in Mt. Holly, New Jersey to Brooke and Doris (Mickle) Tidswell. Her father was a banker and business owner, and her mother a school secretary.

As a child, Barbara had no interest in writing or reading The one exception was comic books like Archie and Richie Rich. In fact she hated writing assignments, which she has compared to eating broccoli and going to the dentist. She was more focused on humor. She once described her view of herself as a child as "I always found myself incredibly amusing. So from the first grade on, whenever a funny thought hit me, I would happily blurt it out for the whole class to hear. Unfortunately, not many of my teachers appreciated my sense of humor as much as I did. And their disapproval was often reflected in the grades I received in conduct." [1]

By the time she was in high school, Barbara had found a strong interest in reading. Over time, her feelings about writing changed as well. When she finished high school she started attending Rider College in 1965. She continued taking classes there until 1967. She finished her Bachelor of Science Degree in teaching high school level history at the University of Alabama in 1969. She did student teach with a seventh-grade class, but opted not to take on teaching as a profession.

On June, 28, 1969, Barbara married Richard A. Park, a commercial real estate broker. At the time of their marriage, Richard, was serving in the U.S. Air Force. The couple has two sons named Steven Allen and David Matthew.

Barbara fell into writing as her family began to grow. It was a great career that allowed her to be at home while her two boys were growing up. It was also a good outlet for her more humorous side. In 1979, she began writing adult stories and articles, but she only had limited success.

One day, one of her sons brought home a book by Judy Blume. With the help of that book, she saw that writing for children was the exact genre for her. She gave herself a two-year goal for getting a book published. She used her own childhood memories as well as the day-to-day problems that her sons faced for ideas. It was not long before she had three novels to use in her search for a publisher. When Alfred A. Knopf picked up Operation: Dump the Chump, it happily opted to publish the other two as well.

Her first novel to be published was Don't Make Me Smile. It was published in 1981 and found quick critical success.

Barbara is probably best known for a series of titles for beginning readers involving a kindergartner named Junie B. Jones. Each book features a problem that many kids that age face. The series, which debuted in 1992, has about twenty titles to date and is still growing. It is popular largely for its blend of humor and winning characterization.

Looking at her work, Barbara has explained that she likes to focus on the humor of a situation even when there is a lesson to be learned. "I don't write books to try to impart heavy morals or messages ... I don't particularly like it when teachers ask students to list what 'lessons' they have learned from one of my stories ... I don't believe that in order to be worthwhile a book must try to teach some weighty lessons in life." [3]

Barbara Park lives in Arizona with her husband and a golden retriever named Gracie. She has received more than 40 awards for her books.

Information for this biography was taken from:
1) "Author Bio: Barbara Park," Random House; (http://www.randomhouse.com/kids/junieb/authorbio.html)
2) "Barbara Park, 1947-," Gale Literary Database; (http://www.galenet.com)
3) Anne Commire (ed.). Something About the Author, #40; Gale Research Company: Detroit, Mich., 1985.
4) "Park, Barbara, April 27, 1947-, Author), Educational Paperback Association; (http://www.edupaperback.org/authorbios/Park_Barbara.html)

Titles by Barbara Park
J-Park Almost Starring Skinnybones (1988) -- Irresistible, twelve-year-old Alex is convinced that he will be a star and impress his schoolmates when, as the winner of a cat food essay contest, he is asked to make a commercial for national television.

J-Park The Graduation of Jake Moon (2000) -- Fourteen-year-old Jake recalls how he has spent the last four years of his life watching his grandfather descend slowly but surely into the horrors of Alzheimer's disease.

J-P-PAR (series) Junie B. Jones and a Little Monkey Business (1993) -- Through a misunderstanding, Junie B. thinks that her new baby brother is really a baby monkey, and her report of this news creates excitement and trouble in her kindergarten class.

J-P-PAR (series) Junie B, Jones and Her Big Fat Mouth (1993) -- When her kindergarten class has Job Day, Junie B. goes through much confusion and excitement before deciding on the "bestest" job of all.

J-P-PAR (series) Junie B. Jones and Some Sneaky Peeky Spying (1994) -- Junie B.'s penchant for spying on people and her curiosity about the private life of her teacher get her in trouble at school.

J-P-PAR (series) Junie B. Jones and That Meanie Jim's Birthday (1996) -- Junie B. is very upset when a boy in her class plans to invite everyone except her to his birthday party, but her grandfather helps her deal with the situation.

J-P-PAR (series) Junie B. Jones and the Mushy Gushy Valentine (1999) -- When Junie B. Jones receives a mushy gushy "valentine" on Valentine's Day, she tries to find out who in her class is her secret admirer.

J-P-PAR (series) Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus (1992) -- In her own words, a young girl describes her feelings about starting kindergarten and what she does when she decides not to ride the bus home.

J-P-PAR (series) Junie B. Jones and the Yucky Blucky Fruitcake (1996) -- Junie B. looks forward to winning lots of prizes at the school carnival, but a fruit cake was not exactly what she had in mind.

J-Park Junie B. Jones Has a Monster Under Her Bed (1997) -- After hearing from a classmate that people have monsters under their beds, Junie B. is afraid to go to sleep at night.

J-P-PAR (series) Junie B. Jones Has a Peep in Her Pocket (2000) -- When Junie B. learns that her kindergarten class is going on a field trip to a farm, she worries about being attacked by a rooster.

J-P-PAR (series) Junie B. Jones is a Beauty Shop Guy (1998) -- After her first trip to a beauty parlor, Junie B. decides she wants to work there, and she practices on her bunny slippers, her dog, and herself with disastrous results.

J-P-PAR (series) Junie B. Jones is a Graduation Girl (2001) -- Junie B. has just turned six and is looking forward to her kindergarten graduation, but when grape juice stains the white gown she couldn't resist trying on, she is afraid graduation is ruined.

J-P-PAR (series) Junie B. Jones is a Party Animal (1997) -- Lucille invites Junie B. and her friend Grace to sleep over at her very rich nanna's house, where everything is beautiful, expensive, and breakable.

J-P-PAR (series) Junie B. Jones is (Almost) a Flower Girl (2000) -- Junie B. is disappointed to find out that her aunt has asked someone else to be the flower girl at her wedding.

J-P-PAR (series) Junie B. Jones is Captain Field Day (2001) -- As captain of Room Nine's field day team, Junie B. tries to rally her troops after they lose several events.

J-Park Junie B. Jones is Not a Crook (1997) -- Junie B. experiences glee while showing off her new furry mittens in kindergarten, but disaster strikes when they disappear from the playground.

J-P-PAR (series) Junie B. Jones Loves Handsome Warren (1996) -- Unable to compete with her friends' fancy clothes and running ability, irrepressible Junie B. finds her own way to make the new boy at school like her.

J-P-PAR (series) Junie B. Jones Smells Something Fishy (1998) -- Frustrated because the rules for her class's Pet Day will not let her take her dog to school, Junie B. considers taking a raccoon, a worm, a dead fish, and other unusual replacements.

J-PAR/J-P-PAR The Kid in the Red Jacket (1987) -- When ten-year-old Howard has to move with his family to a distant state, he is forced to live on a street named Chester Pewe, adjust to a new school, and get used to being shadowed by the little girl in a nearby house.

J-Park Mick Harte Was Here (1995) -- Thirteen-year-old Phoebe recalls her younger brother Mick and his death in a bicycle accident.

J-Park/J-P-PAR Skinnybones (1982) -- Alex's active sense of humor helps him get along with the school braggart, make the most of his athletic talents, and simply get by in a hectic world.

"AuthorBio: Barbara Park", Random House (http://www.randomhouse.com/kids//junieb/authorbio.html) -- This site provides a brief biography of the writer, fun games and activities related to her books, and a chance to read a letter from Junie B. Jones.

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