Author Barbara Park, who created a popular series of books around the smart-mouth kid Junie B. Jones, died Friday of ovarian cancer at 66.
Park's young readers series sold more than 55 million copies just in North America, Random House told the Associated Press
. The "Junie B. Jones" series was adapted into a popular musical theater production.
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Park won more than 40 children's book awards and was featured in the New York Times, USA Today, and Time magazine.
"I've never been sure whether Junie B.'s fans love her in spite of her imperfections … or because of them," Park said on her website. "But either way, she's gone out into the world and made more friends than I ever dreamed possible."
Park is also the author of "The Graduation of Jake Moon," "Mick Harte Was Here," "Skinnybones," and "MA! There's Nothing to Do Here!"
"I'm Judy B. and lot of kids just assumed I was Junie B. Jones and had written the books," fellow author Judy Blume told The Associated Press. "I'd always say, 'I didn't write them, but I wish I had.'"
Park credited Blume's work with inspiring here to write for children. Park starting writing her "Junie B. Jones" series in 1992 and illustrated 30 chapter books.
The Associated Press reported Park's books at times caused controversy with parents and educators because of the character's language and cheeky ways. Some parents said that Junie B. Jones was a bad influence on her fans. The American Library Association placed the series on its list of "challenged" books.
Born Barbara Tidswell in Mount Holly, N.J., Park said in the past that she was a troublemaker as a student "who knew well the path to the principal's office." She majored in education at the University of Alabama with plans to become a teacher but said she turned to writing after having a bad experience teaching seventh graders.
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