Junie B. Jones is Coming Back!

by Caitlin White

Who could forget one of the greatest sassy five-year-olds children's books could ever have? Which is why Random House plans to reissue Junie B. Jones and all her 28 book adventures this May. Barbara Park wrote the first book in the series, Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus in 1992, and though she tragically passed away in November of 2013, she had already placed her stamp of approval on the reissue project for her beloved heroine.

Junie B. Jones, or Juniper Beatrice Jones if we're getting formal, is a vibrant kindergartner and eventual first-grader who is never afraid to speak her opinion (see: stupid, smelly bus). She lives with her mom and dad, brother Ollie, and beloved dog Tickle, and though she's tough, she's not afraid to express her unusual fears — roosters, ponies, and clowns, the latter of which she describes as "not normal people." I'm with you there, Junie B. Through 28 books, readers follow Junie B., her family, her BFFs, her teachers, and even her rivals, such as May Murkee, who she doesn't get along with because May refuses to say the "B" in her name.

Random House's Junie B. Jones reissue will stay true to Park and illustrator Denise Brunkus' original vision, while updating it for new generations of children. Cathy Goldsmith, VP and associate publishing director of Random House spoke out about walking this fine line.

We have to consider girls — and boys, since we never want to forget that part of Junie’s audience — who already know her, but we also want to find new readers without losing the old. The thing about children’s books is that there is always a new group of seven-year-olds coming along — so we have to win over new readers year after year.

First off, shout-out to Goldsmith calling out Junie B. as being for boys too, because so often books with female protagonists, especially for children, are labelled as "girl books."

And second, so what does this mean for Junie's look? You can definitely expect covers with lots of "polka-dotties" as Junie B. calls them when she wears her signature hair bow. In fact, the polka dots were Park's original suggestion before she passed away. Also, they're staying true to Brunkus's original Junie B. depiction. Goldsmith talked about bring Brunkus back on for the reissue project:

Today I’d be showing different in-house groups samples of 20 illustrators’ work. But Denise’s samples were the only ones I presented. I’d had one of her postcards on my bulletin board for years, and I’d always hoped to find something that we could work on together. Her characters have real attitude – and attitude is what Junie is all about. I am thrilled that we’re both still working on this series together today.

The reissue will correspond with a revamped annual roadtrip in a school bus — and yes, the bus driver is Junie's own Mr. Woo — called the Laugh Yourself Silly with Junie B. Jones School Tour. You can also read Junie B.'s updated digital journal.

"Junie B.’s new look captures her spirit perfectly," Brunkus said. "She is timeless, and readers will want to continue to be in her world."

Images: Junie B. Jones/Facebook