Literary Landmark: Cherokee Elementary School - Barbara Park

Paradise Valley, Arizona
Dedicated May 5, 2017
Partners: Arizona Center for the Book at the Arizona State Library, Random House Children’s Books

Junie B. Jones look-alikes, otherwise known as students of Cherokee Elementary School in Paradise Valley, Arizona, gathered on the school’s outdoor basketball court on May 5, 2017, to see their school become Arizona’s very first Literary Landmark™.

Author Barbara Park (1947-2013) was inspired to write the plot of Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus when she found a young Cherokee student walking home after he missed the school bus. Barbara later wrote Mick Harte Was Here, a novel that was influenced by the tragic passing of a 4th grade Cherokee student and highlighted the importance of wearing a bicycle helmet. The Stupid Smelly Bus series has sold more than six-million copies worldwide.

The Arizona State Library, a division of the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office, nominated Cherokee Elementary School to be the state’s first Literary Landmark™. Richard Park, Barbara’s husband, and their son David and his family attended the festivities, as did Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan, Scottsdale Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Denise Birdwell and representatives of Random House Children’s Books, Barbara’s publisher. A bronze plaque detailing the author’s connection to Cherokee was unveiled at the event.