“Exceptional” Power of Story in Junie B. Books for Kids

27 07 2007

As in “exception to the rule” — why are the Junie B. kids’ books so infuriating to so many standard-bearing parents and teachers, really?

Is it because Junie B. breaks the standard rules she’s been taught, or –aha! — it is really because Junie B. FOLLOWS the simple rules quite literally, without exception and thereby makes it laughable?

I’m thinking it’s an ingenious paradox, that the author accomplishes the former because her heroine does the latter.

To follow Junie B.’s own exceptional lack of exception, let’s put it this way:

Simplistic rules marching us all to one prescribed end is wrong. Calling it education is wronger. Church and state enforcing it on little kids is wrongest.

Parents and teachers who define their own purpose in life as following and imposing rules without exception, perpetuating standards through compulsion and restriction, refusing to make exceptions as in zero tolerance policies, demonizing intellectuals — and liberal arts and relativism and diversity of thought and incontrovertibly complex reality itself — must find it threatening when their own young children readily recognize and laugh at the obviously inadequate results of such a childish, nascent world view.

What makes it a paradox imo, is that if you WERE one of those folks, you wouldn’t be able to understand and consider, much less accept, this explanation of why you felt threatened by the Junie B. books. Read the rest of this entry »