Cherokee Elementary named Arizona’s first literary landmark honoring ‘Junie B. Jones’ author


On Friday, May 5, the Scottsdale Unified School District and the Town of Paradise Valley reaffirmed its spot in history with the unveiling of Arizona’s first literary landmark.

Cherokee Elementary School, 8801 N. 56th St. in Paradise Valley, has been named the state’s first literary landmark in memory of children’s series “Junie B. Jones” author, Barbara Park.

“Author Barbara Park was inspired to write ‘Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus’ when she found a young Cherokee student walking home after he missed the school bus,” Cherokee librarian, Amanda Shapiro said in an emailed response to questions. “Barbara later wrote ‘Mick Harte Was Here,’ a novel that was influenced by the tragic passing of a 4th grade Cherokee student.”

The Junie B. Jones series, published from 1992 to 2013, focused around a young girl who is “almost six years old” starting her first day of kindergarten.

The series included over 20 books, and sold over 60 million copies in North America alone, states. The series was consistently a No. 1 New York Times bestseller, spending over 180 weeks on the list.

During a May 5 ceremony, United for Library presented the plaque to community members, SUSD Superintendent Dr. Denise Birdwell and many Cherokee students, cementing Ms. Park’s impact on the community.

“Although, we did not know her personally, she lived in the community and her books have become a time-honored staple in schools around the world and have kept kids laughing and engaged in reading,” Ms. Shapiro said.

“We are so thrilled and honored that we were chosen to be the landmark for Barbara Park and being the first in the state makes it even more special.”

Ms. Park’s husband, Richard, suggested the school as the landmark because of the inspiration she found there.

“The Stupid Smelly Bus was the first in the wildly popular, bestselling Junie B. Jones series, which has kept millions of children and their grownups laughing — and reading — for decades and is beloved by children all over the globe,” the plaque reads. “Cherokee Elementary will always consider itself to be Barbara Park’s home school.”

Ms. Park died in November 2013 following a battle with ovarian cancer.

Northeast Valley News Editor Melissa Rosequist can be e-mailed at or can be followed on Twitter at

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