Comments for Junie B., First Grader, Shipwrecked
Junie B., First Grader, Shipwrecked: 05/30/14
Junie B., First Grader, Shipwrecked by Barbara Park is the 23rd Junie B. Jones book. When my oldest was in kindergarten, he and I would read this series together. Since he's moved onto longer books, I haven't really given the series much thought. Then the recent death of Barbara Park, and my youngest receiving Shipwrecked as a hand-me-down, changed that.
Junie B. and her classmates are learning about Christopher Columbus in class. Mr. Scary decides to use the upcoming Columbus Day as an excuse to put on a class play. The children have to write the play, decide on their parts, and design the set and costumes.
As is the shtick, Junie's enthusiasm gets in the way. She wants to be the fastest ship and she wants to be the star of the show. As it seems Mr. Scary is incapable of maintaining order in his classroom, there's a lot of trouble with setting up the play, and the play itself is a bit of a flop because Junie can't behave or control her urges.
But Junie here is only half of the reason behind my lukewarm reception. The other is Columbus. When I was Junie's age, my school most certainly did make a big deal out of Columbus and the many other white, European or early American explorers who "discovered" bits and pieces of the "new" world.
Of course, that's all Eurocentric hogwash. Yes, Columbus's journey set into motion a whole series of events that forever changed the Western Hemisphere. But as much as I love my country and my home in California, it would be idiotic to say Columbus was universally a hero.
I'm not sure the Junie B. books with their situational comedy have the wiggle room to cover complex topics. But there seems to be a book for every holiday on the school calendar. These books are best when they cover simple things.