Yesterday, on the same day that the New York Times ran the story "Is Junie B. Jones Talking Trash?" (which explored whether reading Barbara Park's "Junie B." series of books, which is written in the accurate voice of a five year old, is potentially harmful to kids), I came across an interesting item at the kids' clothing store The Children's Place: tank tops for girls ages 4 and up, with built-in bras.
Yes, that's right. Shirts with built-in bras for 4-year-old girls.
What's next, tiny practice tampons with pictures of Dora the Explorer on the wrappers?
So, call me old-fashioned, but I'm not particularly worried about my kids reading how Junie B. "hided" in her closet or "runned" on the playground or any of the other grammatically juvenile words and phrases in the series. I wish there were more writers who could write in the voice of a child as well as Park does. Plus, I can't believe that the parents interviewed in the Times article don't trust their kids to know the difference between the way Junie B. talks and the "right" way. However, it is apparently not just these specific people but many more like-minded folks who rocketed Park to the American Library Association's annual Ten Most Challenged Authors List (a list I aspire to be on with my new BUTT-in-the-title picture book, I might add).
That said, my seven year old - who embraced the Junie B. series with reckless abandon but talks fine and is therefore my case in point - did pick up a comic turn of phrase from a book once. It was not from the allegedly "trash-talking" Junie B., however.
It was from Lucy Rose, the heroine of Katy Kelly's fabulous series by the same name. In the third Lucy Rose book, LR is doing a lot of eavesdropping and she uses the word "eyedropping" to describe visual snooping (in other words, eavesdropping with your eyes). My seven year old now uses this term, and I haven't had the heart to tell her that it was invented by the author.
But that's okay. I say, let her keep saying it. Let her stay bra-less a while longer too, for that matter.
After all, she's just a kid.
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