JUNIE B., FIRST GRADER
CHEATER PANTS BY
Part One: Bibliographic Information
Park, B., & Brunkus, D. (2004). Junie B., first grader: Cheater pants. New York, N.Y.: Scholastic.
Interest Level: Grades 3-5
Reading Level: Grade Equivalent 2
Part Two: Response to the book
From the title I could predict that Cheater Pants was going to be a story about Junie cheating. However, I predicted that after being caught the first time, Junie would have learned her lesson would refrain from ever cheating again. This was not the case as she did it once more, only this time, felt bad about it and told on herself, which one could appreciate.
Thoughts about craft
Although she has been criticized for her style of writing, Barbara Parks exhibits great skill as she is able to write convincingly in the first person from the voice of a child. I admire her ability to not only speak from a child’s perspective but to exhibit the behavior of a child, as she illustrates spontaneous, sometimes inappropriate behavior the way a normal child would, making her works authentic and easy for children to read and relate to.
Personal connections to other books or your life
As an adult, it is tough to admit that I too would feel the same way and think the same things about Junie’s classmate, May. In grade school, there was always that one student in class who thought he / she knew it all, and who tried so hard to be teacher’s pet, and I remember being so annoyed by them and thinking the same things Junie thought about May. Their teacher, Mr. Scary, however, displays annoyance in his tone when talking to May, which I hope not to do as a teacher, even to my annoying students.
Thoughts about particular issues raised in the book
Honesty plays a huge role in both our social and academic lives. Plagiarism is the breaking of a contract, thus is a form of dishonesty. Since honesty plays a huge role in both our social and academic lives, it is important that students, at a young age learn the definition of plagiarism, its harms, and its consequences. This book can help to start that dialogue!
Prompts you could use when reading this book to children
Prior to reading this book, I would ask students to think about a time they were dishonest and the consequences they faced as a result of their dishonest behavior. I would also ask them to think about feelings they experienced when being dishonest.
When her father does not let her stay up late to do her homework, first grader Junie B, decides to copy a classmate’s assignment, only to get caught and be confronted by her teacher and parents. When Mr. Scary announces to the class that all students will have to share their homework assignments with the rest of the class, Junie panics and copies May’s homework assignment. Julie thinks she lucks out when she discovers that her classmates are simply sharing what they did over the weekend. When it’s her turn, Junie begins to talk about what she did over the weekend. Junie is caught when Mr. Scary notices that she is not reading off of her paper. Upset because she has to confront the issue with Mr. Scary, miss recess, and face her parents, Junie begins to think about what she has done, and how this will affect her image and what her friends will think of her. While we hope Junie learns her lesson, she does not and commits a similar act, only this time cheats off of her friend’s exam who offers her his answers. The two feel terrible about their misconduct and confess. Little did they know where this honesty would get them!
The story takes place mostly in the Mr. Scary’s classroom.
Parker’s tone throughout is a combination of humor, regret, and empathy.
Themes presented in this book are cheating, honesty, repeat, and consequences.
As previously mentioned, Parker successfully writes from the point of view of a first grader, and does it well!
Part Four: Lesson Sketch
Describe characters in a story (e.g., their traits, motivations, or feelings) and explain how their actions contribute to the sequence of events.
Given a scene from the book, students will successfully collaborate as they take on different character roles to perform a short skit of the scene assigned to them.
For this activity, the teacher will generate groups and assign each group a scene from the book. Each group will be instructed to act out the scene. It will be up to the members of the group to decide which students will take on which roles. After a couple rehearsals, groups will be required to perform their scene in front of the class. Each performance will follow up with a short explanation in which students will be required to describe the character they played in the scene. They will describe the character’s traits, motivation, or feelings and explain how their actions contributed to the sequence of events found in the story.
What kinds of characteristic traits should you possess when taking on the role of Junie? Herb? May? Mr. Scary? etc.
Did assigning and taking on roles help you to better understand the character?