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Junie B., First Grader: Cheater Pants (Junie B. Jones, 21) Hardcover – May 27, 2003

4.6 out of 5 stars 92 customer reviews
Book 21 of 28 in the Junie B. Jones Series

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 1-4-In her fourth "First Grader" book, Junie B. grapples with the ethical issue of cheating and learns how to work collaboratively. She gets caught after she copies a homework assignment. Later, she and another student confess to cheating on a spelling test. Between these two episodes, Junie B. and three classmates have a great experience writing a cinquain poem on friendship. The story wraps up nicely with the protagonist getting support from her parents and a cinquain composed by her teacher, commending her on her honesty. This beginning chapter book is written in first-person narrative with occasional journal entries. 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.
Marilyn Ackerman, Brooklyn Public Library, NY
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Gr. 1-2. No one wants to be a cheater pants, a "nasty, rotten ratty pants," especially not first-grader Junie B. Jones. However, in the latest addition to Park's popular early chapter-book series, Junie B. is indeed guilty as charged. One day when she neglects to do her homework, she leans over to copy prissy, perfect, punctual May's paper. After being busted in an embarrassing fashion, Junie B. laments in her journal, "I wish I could disappear into thin hair." Fortunately, with the help of her teacher, Mr. Scary, she learns her lesson: she wasn't "borrowing" May's homework, she was, in fact, cheating. Or was she? Park creates a wonderful classroom of distinct personalities, reflecting the best and most irksome parts of being a kid with equal aplomb. Junie B. is quite entertaining--if you can get used to the deliberately odd constructions such as "I did a gasp at that thing." Brunkus' comical, distinctly Eloise-like pencil illustrations suit the precocious Junie B. to a T. Karin Snelson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 6 - 9 years
  • Grade Level: 1 - 4
  • Lexile Measure: 340L (What's this?)
  • Series: A Stepping Stone Book(TM) (Book 21)
  • Hardcover: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers; 1st edition (May 27, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375823018
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375823015
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.4 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (92 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,987,899 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I grew up in Mt. Holly, New Jersey. It was a small town surrounded by farmland . . . the kind of town where you greet people by name on Main Street. It was only an hour's drive to the ocean. So every summer we spent family vacations on Long Beach Island. My brother and I would ride the waves during the day and play miniature golf at night. It's the kind of idyllic memory that stays in your head long after you've grown up and moved away.
After graduating from high school and spending two years at Rider University, I transferred to the University of Alabama where I met my husband, Richard. Eventually his job brought him to Arizona. We both fell in love with the desert and wanted to stay here forever. Still, during the heat of the Arizona summers, those ocean memories would come rushing back. So-after years of sweaty summers-my husband and I finally built a house on Long Beach Island, the same island where my brother and I rode the waves as kids. In the story business, that's called "coming full circle." These days, Richard and I divide our time between the desert and the ocean. In the words of Junie B. Jones, I'm a lucky duck.

Q. What inspired you to start writing?

In my case, it was sort of "reverse" inspiration. I got a degree in secondary education. My plan was to teach high school history and political science. But, because of a scheduling problem my senior year, I ended up doing my student teaching in the seventh grade. The word disaster doesn't really cover this one. I'll spare you the details. But as I ran screaming from the school building every day, I knew that I would never be a teacher. My husband and I married after graduation, and started a family. A few years later, when I was ready to go to work, I was still haunted by the memories of student teaching. So I was "inspired" to try my hand at writing instead.

Q. How did you go about getting published?

The first children's novel I wrote was Operation: Dump the Chump. As soon as it was finished, I bought a copy of Writer's Market, found some addresses, and started sending it off to publishers who were accepting unsolicited manuscripts. It was rejected three times. All three rejections managed to work in the classic industry one-liner, "It isn't right for our list."

The fourth time I sent it to Alfred Knopf, Inc. A few weeks later, they called and said it was exactly right for their list. I felt like I'd hit the lottery.

Q: You've written middle-grade novels, early chapter books, and picture books. Which do you like writing best?

I can't really say which I like best. But after all the Junie B. books I've written, those certainly come the easiest. The middle-grade novels are more of a challenge. But in some ways, that makes them more rewarding. The last two I've written (Mick Harte Was Here and The Graduation of Jake Moon) were both about very sensitive topics, so it took a long time to get them exactly right. But I think those two books have made me the most proud.

Q. Tell us about your most recent picture book.

It's called, MA! There's Nothing to Do Here! It's about a baby in utero who is bored out of his mind. The idea for it was born (so to speak) when my daughter-in-law, Renee, invited me to my first grandson's ultrasound. Although I had never had an ultrasound myself, I'd seen pictures of other babies in utero. But I wasn't prepared for how amazing it would be to see my own little grandbaby on that screen. I felt like I was watching the Discovery Channel.

Q. How much did you continue to think about the baby after seeing the ultrasound? How did this develop into the idea for the book?

A. On the way out of the doctor's office, I remember thinking, Okay, so now we're all going back to our busy lives. But the baby is still in there just floating around. Except for an occasional kick or hiccup, he's got absolutely nothing to do.

A few months later-when I was getting ready to give Renee a baby shower-I wrote this poem, framed it, and gave it to her as a shower gift.

Q. Of the characters you've created, who is your favorite?

A. This would be a bit like picking a favorite child. I don't have a single favorite character, but again, I lived with the characters Mick and Phoebe Harte and Jake and Skelly Moon for a very long time. So those four are the most dear to me.

The characters I've had the most fun with have been the little ones. Little kids are so free to say whatever is on their minds. They aren't silenced by peer pressure and the notion that they have to sound cool. Molly Vera Thompson in The Kid in the Red Jacket is six, and Thomas Russo in My Mother Got Married and Other Disasters is five. They both were such fun to write about that they led to the creation of Junie B. Jones.

Q. Is Junie B. modeled after you as a child? Did you ever do any of the things that Junie B. does?

A. I was sent to "Principal" in first grade for talking. There were lots of notes sent home that year, as well. My father was on the Board of Education. Not good.

Q. There's been some criticism of the Junie-speak in the series. How do you answer concerns that Junie's grammar is not good for young readers?

A. Honestly, most of the grown-ups I hear from are writing to tell me that Junie B. Jones got their reluctant readers to read. I have drawers full of letters from parents and teachers that are so meaningful to me, I can't bear to part with them. These are adults who understand that fictional literature plays a whole different role in children's lives than a book of grammar or a basic reader.

That having been said, there are always going to be a handful of people who denigrate books that speak in a voice other than their own. I've stopped trying to explain the concept of literature to people like that. Wasted time better spent.

8. What makes you laugh?

My sense of humor is a little bit off-center, I think. In the movies, I usually laugh at parts that no one else seems to think are funny. Then there are movies like Young Frankenstein where I laugh from the opening scene straight through to the end.

Lots of other things make me laugh, as well. My husband and sons make me laugh. My dog. My grandsons. Friends. The absurdities of life. My lopsided cakes. The list goes on . . .

What advice do you have for teachers that are aspiring writers? For kids?

There's nothing revolutionary in my advice, I'm afraid. It's the same old stuff. Write as much and as often as you can. Try different genres to find your niche. Then rewrite, rewrite, rewrite. And-above all-be your own worst critic.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

A Kid's Review on June 18, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I found this book to be very funny. I especially liked the part when Junie didn't think that copying May's homework was cheating. I really like all of Barbara Park's books.
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Format: Paperback
My 6 yr old is in 1st grade this year, and I've been searching for chapter books we can read each night for bed. We found the Junie B series and they really make us laugh. My daughter knows that Junie B uses words and phrases we do NOT approve of and we do NOT talk like that. I'm comfortable enough in our parenting skills to allow my daughter to cont. on with this series of books. Her behavior and the way she talks and acts hasn't changed simply b/c of a book she reads at nighttime.

This book we just finished last night. It was probably one of my favorites. My daughter knows the word "cheater" but really didn't get the concept I don't think. I guess I never even really thought to explain it to her. They have spelling tests in school and she didn't really understand why the teacher always was telling them to cover up their papers...now she knows. She knows EXACTLY what cheating is, and the different forms of cheating...(cheating when noone is looking and cheating even if someone allows you to)...and i truly believe she will NEVER cheat. When i read one of the final chapters about Junie B getting some "help" from a friend on a spelling test my daughter immediatly covered her eyes and screamed out NO!!!!!!!!!! So, she got it ;)
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Junie B Jones is a very funny kid in all of the books that is why I am going to read all of new and old series of the Junie B Jones books . I think that Junie B Jones is a real kid that is really really really funny.
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Barbara Park knew how to capture the funny, innocent, social awkwardness of being young. Junie B is every parent's nightmare. She is not a naughty child. She is simply learning how to navigate in a big world full of unwritten rules about what a first grader should and shouldn't say and do.
The story is simple and well written. The vocabulary is great for an early reader.

I have to admit I am not fond of Junie's tart little sayings at times. I do not allow my kids to use words like "stupid" which are thrown around liberally in the book. I have made clear to my kids they can read Junie B, but if I ever hear Junie B-ish words coming from their mouths, Junie B will find herself at the half price bookstore on the corner.
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I liked the book because Junie B. Jones was always getting in trouble at school. First, Junie B.Jones copied Mays homework. This caused her to get in trouble with Mr.Scary and her Mom and Dad. The problem was that Junie B. Jones was a cheater pants. She does learn her lesson and decides never to cheat again. But that didn't last long because Herb helped her on the spelling test. She cheated again! Two days in a row she cheated. Herb and Junie B. couldn't sleep that night. So to make themselves feel better they went and told on themselves to Mr. Scary. She got in trouble again and was given another talk about cheating by her Mom and Dad. But the best thing of all was that Mr. Scary trusted her again because of her honesty.
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First of all, all first graders are cheaters! They have to learn to not cheat somewheres. I think this book is a good source of teaching children. Children can enjoy reading this book as they learn that cheating is not something any child should continue doing. They should learn it is not tolerated from parents or any adults and teachers. I like the way the lesson was taught here in "Cheater Pants". We have laughed a lot in this series of books!

My family and I have truely enjoyed this book! I highly recommend this book for parents to get for their child.

Peggy Headings
(Author of "The Adventures of the Muffin Family")
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Junie B., First Grader: Cheater Pants has a title that tells it all! Junie is out of kindergarten and into first grade, so there are some bigger and harder lessons for our obstinate and hilarious little heroine to learn.

Will Junie B. Jones emerge a smarter girl after this misadventure in Mr. Scary's classroom? You can be sure that Barbara Parks will never let Junie escape unscathed! (And there will be lots of laughs for us.)

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Have you read Junie B Jones? I just purchased the box set and began reading them to my kindergartener. I was horrified from the beginning at the very attitude and rude, ignorant spirit of Junie B Jones. She hates her name, the bus, the people on it, the teacher and her new school. What a negative thing to meet someone on the bus and instantly HATE them. Is this the kind of human interactions that we should be teaching our children? She yells, throws fits and generally has attitude about everything. The grammer is written from a 6 year old's perspective, which does nothing to educate our children about the way things should be phrased. This is not the picture of kindergarten, nor the worldview that I would suggest to my children or anyone else's for that matter. After 4 chapters, the entire series is in the trash as a waste of money. Think twice about what you are reading to your impressionable young children (or letting them read for themselves!) Would give zero stars if I could.
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