Barbara Park created the funny, opinionated, and sassy character, Junie B. Jones. Park viewed the world; everything and everyone in it through the lenses of a 6 -year- old Kindergarten student. Her character’s innocence and honestly rang through in every book. Each book tackled problems common to children her age and even when she passed on to first grade Junie B. continued to express her opinions and didn’t much mind what anyone else thought.
I have very fond memories of reading and rereading this series with my firstborn, then a few years later again with my second child. Honestly, I’m not certain who enjoyed them more, my kids or me. Park came up with just the right words to describe how Junie B felt. When stating her opinion, Junie B. Jones would finish by saying “The End”. And she didn’t hold back those opinions. What she said is what she thought! And it just so happened that Junie B was funny because she was so darn earnest about things that were confusing or frustrating or just didn’t make a lot of sense to her. That’s about how Barbara Park fans feel about her death at age 66 from ovarian cancer. In our adult brains we know bad things happen, but it still doesn’t make sense.
Too many women still die from ovarian cancer. According to the CDC, “Ovarian cancer causes more deaths than any other cancer of the female reproductive system. But when ovarian cancer is found in its early stages, treatment is most effective.” What is most frightening is that it also says, “There is no simple and reliable way to screen for ovarian cancer in women who do not have any signs or symptoms.” And furthermore, “The Pap test does not check for ovarian cancer.” The only thing a woman can do is to know her own body and ask questions of her doctor if symptoms arise. Woah. Where in the world are the advances in this field? Educate yourself. Learn your family history. Listen to your body. Ask questions. Learn about the latest research in the field.
Do everything you can to make sure this disease doesn’t claim your life. When it comes to your health, be Junie B. Jones.