Author Barbara Park, creator of the “Junie B. Jones” series of transitional fiction books, has died at age 66 from ovarian cancer. The New Jersey native died on Friday, November 15, 2013 at her home in Scottdale, Arizona. Her first book was Don’t Make Me Smile (1981), but the first book she wrote was Operation Dump the Chump which was published in 1982. One of her most memorable books was the poignant Mick Harte was Here (1995), which motivated many readers to wear bike helmets.
In 1992 her first “Junie B. Jones” book was published, and she has sold more than 50 million copies of the 29 books in the series. Park said she based the character on herself, having been the “class clown” who remembers being sent to the principal’s office. The series has appeared on the American Library Association’s list of Challenged books, as some parents feel the character was a bad influence due to her outspoken nature and grammar errors.