Barbara Park, author of the Junie B. Jones series of childrens' books has died, her publisher Random House announced. Park, 66, had ovarian cancer.
"Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus" kicked off the Junie B. Jones story in 1992. Park published 30 books in the series about the funny kindergartener (and, from book 18 onward, first-grader) navigating the challenges of school and family. The series has sold more than 55 million copies.
Other books in the series include "Junie B. Jones and That Meanie Jim's Birthday," "Junie B., First Grader: Boss of Lunch," "Junie B. Jones Has a Peep in Her Pocket" and "Junie B. Jones and the Mushy Gushy Valentine."
Park was born Barbara Lynn Tidswell and raised in New Jersey; she met her husband while attending college in Alabama. The two eventually settled in Arizona and had two sons. It was as a parent that Park began to write for children.
She credited author Judy Blume with inspiring her to write humorous books for kids. On Sunday, Blume told the Associated Press, "I'm Judy B. and lot of kids just assumed I was Junie B. Jones and had written the books. I'd always say, 'I didn't write them, but I wish I had.'"
In addition to the Junie B. Jones series, Park wrote a couple of picture books and more than a dozen middle-grade novels, which were what she began with before finding the voice of Junie B. Jones.