Title: Junie B., First Grader: Boss of Lunch
Author: Barbara Park
Illustrator: Denise Brunkus
Publisher: Random House, 2002
Genre: Fiction, Chapter Book
Age Range: 1-2
Summary: Junie B. Jones is very excited about her new bird lunchbox. She keeps looking at it during class, sparking a debate over whether it is better to bring your lunch or buy it. In the cafeteria, she realizes that she and another boy are the only ones who do not buy their lunch. Her friend Jose lets her have a bite of his cookie, and she talks about Mrs. Gutzman, who used to bring cookies to her class last year. Junie B. runs to the kitchen when she hears that Mrs. Gutzman is working there. Her teacher gets mad at her for running back there, but Mrs. Gutzman asks Junie B. if she would like to be the lunch helper the next day. She gets permission, and the next day she goes to help. She dresses like a lunch lady and has three jobs to do. Junie B. gets excited when her class comes, and she lets it known to them that the food for the day is gross, which makes everyone lose their appetites. Junie B. is very embarrassed. Later that day, Mrs. Gutzman comes to the classroom and Junie B. is able to help her pass out cookies to her class.
Response: Junie B. Jones is quite a character. She is full of energy and life. You can see that she is a typical first-grader who repeats everything she hears from adults, and sometimes does so at inappropriate times. She seems to be a little distracted in the classroom, perhaps ADHD, and her teachers get upset with her quite often. Her fascination with a lunch box is quite hilarious, and she is so proud of it. Her big dilemma in the story is that she brings her lunch to school, thinking it is the greatest, but almost all the other students in the classroom buy school lunch. She gets a little jealous about it, as another girl makes her feel bad. Junie B. gets super excited when she gets permission to work in the lunchroom. Her parents try to tell her that just because she is helping, does not mean that she is the boss. Junie B. seems to have a hard time with this because the next day she does not really fulfill the jobs that Mrs. Gutzman gives her. She keeps having to wash her hands and change her gloves because she will mess with her hair or touch something with germs on it. Her three jobs are: greet students coming into the cafeteria, wipe down the counter, and keep the napkins filled. Junie B. tries to do these jobs the best she can. She gets nervous greeting older students, and they pick on her. When her class comes in Junie B. gets really excited and tells them that "I'M KEEPING HAIR AND GERMS OUT OF THE TUNA NOODLE STINKLE!"(p. 64) Her trying to show up May makes all the students disgusted with the food, and they refuse to eat. Obviously this is bad for the cafeteria as they have to make sandwiches for all the kids. Junie B. is humiliated the rest of the day, and when Mrs. Gutzman comes in to the room later, she thinks she is in big trouble. However, Mrs. Gutzman gives Junie B. a second chance at helping her, by passing out cookies. This story teaches children about responsibility and the duties of being a helper. Also, there are smaller lessons about not bullying and picking on others. Junie B. is very applicable to young readers because she is such a real character that they can learn from
Teaching Ideas: There is a great Teacher's Guide that can help with using the book in classroom. It is great for teaching responsibility, using with science for birds, and building character. For students there is a great website where they can do activities and learn more about Junie B. Jones books. More Junie B!