Great Illustrated Books

Junie B., First Grader: Cheater Pants (Junie B. Jones series)

By Barbara Park, Illustrated by Denise Brunkus

Random House Books for Young Readers, 2004
Pages : 96
Suggested Ages: 5-8
ISBN: 9780375823015

For read-alouds and read-alones, this comedic easy-to-read chapter book series also deals with real life issues. The irrepressible Junie B. Jones is in first grade now, and we continue to laugh and relate to her many predicaments as a student and a real kid. Because the weekend zoomed by speedy quick, Junie B. didn't have time to do her homework, so she "borrows" the answers on seatmate May's perfect paper instead. Caught by her teacher, Mr. Scary, she blames others, tries to rationalize her actions, lies, does it again, and finally owns up and takes responsibility, realizing "the word cheater makes you feel like a nasty, rotten ratty pants who can't even be trusted."

Everyone's talking about student plagiarism these days, as high school and college students download papers from the Internet. This little book can start the dialogue on copying and cheating and why it's wrong, even with your youngest kids. Talk it over: what's the difference between borrowing, sharing, copying, and stealing? You can certainly get kids aware of that old "honesty is the best policy" maxim.

Some parents and teachers have taken a dim view of Junie B.'s antics and use of language, worrying that their children will emulate her poor grammar and impish conduct. I take the opposite view. Every Junie B. Jones book—and I've read most of them, starting with Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus —makes me laugh out loud. She exhibits sometimes over-the-top behavior you'll see in children everywhere, and tries so hard to parrot what she's heard the grown-ups say, even if it comes out all wrong a lot of the time. Children know she's messing up, and they feel so superior when they can identify Junie B.'s errors, but they still think she'd be great fun to bring home for a play date.

Reviewed by : JF.


If you love this book, then try:

Brisson, Pat. The Summer My Father Was Ten. Boyds Mills, 1998.

Cameron, Ann. More Stories Huey Tells. Farrar, 1997.

Cameron, Ann. The Stories Huey Tells. Knopf, 1995.

Cleary, Beverly. Ramona the Pest. Morrow, 1968.

Greene, Stephanie. Show and Tell. Clarion, 1998.

Havill, Juanita. Jamaica and the Substitute Teacher. Houghton Mifflin, 1999.

Kline, Suzy. Mary Marony and the Chocolate Surprise. Putnam, 1995.

Look, Lenore. Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things. Schwartz & Wade, 2008.

Lowry, Lois. All About Sam. Houghton Mifflin, 1988. (And others in the Sam series.)

McKissack, Patricia C. The Honest-to-Goodness Truth. Atheneum, 2000.

Park, Barbara. Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus. Random, 1992. (And others in the Junie B. Jones series.)

Peters, Julie Anne. The Stinky Sneakers Contest. Little, Brown, 1992.

Polacco, Patricia. Chicken Sunday. Philomel, 1992.

Rathmann, Peggy. Ruby the Copycat. Scholastic, 1991.

Soto, Gary. Too Many Tamales. Putnam, 1993.

Weeks, Sarah. Oggie Cooder. Scholastic, 2008.

Critics have said

Dollops of humor keep the plot from being heavy-handed. The adults and children are believably portrayed, and the comical drawings match the tone of the story.
School Library Journal