Friday Fiction: Junior Miss

Party like it's 1968
Barbara Walters Unauthorized

junior miss

Junior Miss
Benson
1945 (original copyright 1939)

This vintage gem first started as a series of short stories featured in the New Yorker back in the 1930s. Our protagonist is a 13 year old girl named Judy Graves. This series was mostly about growing out of her awkward stage and her upper middle class family.

Benson was a prolific author and screenwriter including the book, Meet Me in St. Louis which was adapted into the musical featuring Judy Garland. Her other credits include the screenplay The Singing Nun, Viva Las Vegas and the Academy Award winning script Anna and the King of Siam.

Benson remains an important author, but this vintage paperback should probably be retired to an archive. Benson’s material is still published and is absolutely deserving of a place in any library. Will it be popular among today’s teens? Probably not. However, maybe it doesn’t go in your average youth/teen collection, but maybe in the regular fiction section. Regardless of the pedigree of the title, in a public library I want to see books in the section where they are most likely to find their own audience.

I think material like this is a difficult conundrum for a lot of collections. Yes, it is worthy. Larger libraries shouldn’t sweat the choice on making it available in their collections, but might have trouble deciding where to shelve something this vintage. For smaller collections, I wouldn’t hesitate to weed this item if the circulation wasn’t up to par. This is where the smaller libraries have to really push electronic resources or ILL for their patrons.

In the meantime, this will be on my TBR pile.

Mary

junior miss back cover

interior text

12 comments

  1. To put things in perspective, according to my handy-dandy Inflation Calculator app, that $29.50 price in 1939 is equivalent to $533.48 today. (I’ve no idea whether modern teenage girls typically spend that much for a coat.)

  2. I cleaned this book out of my grandparents attic. The scene where she discusses not including briefly attending public school during the depression for a school essay is odd and uncomfortable.

    1. Yes, I loved it too, even though its world was several decades out of date by the time I read it. It’s a classic — I hate it when classics are weeded.

  3. “Her eyes travelled coldly to Judy’s middle. ‘Judy shouldn’t wear a belt, especially a belt with a bow. She’ll be excruciating in it. It will make her look like a sack of meal.'”

    …is how the scene continues. I have, and very much enjoyed, the book (as well as “Meet Me in St. Louis”). Yes, it can be a nostalgic Neverland for a world on the edge of the abyss, and it is still fun to live with this fantasy family. The 1945 movie, on DVD, is also fun and (as I saw it) funnier, with Peggy Ann Garner and Mona Freeman as Judy and Lois, and Allyn Joslyn and Sylvia Field as their parents.

    A tip of the cap to D. G. Hammond, Capt., 28th Engrs. (Avn) Supply Officer, who name-stamped my copy of the book. (In 1941? Per Karl C. Dod’s 1987 book “The Corps of Engineers: The War Against Japan”, “In mid-June 1941 the 28th Engineer Aviation Regiment was disbanded. Men and material from the regiment were used to activate the 802d Engineer Aviation Battalion and the 807th Engineer Aviation Company.”)

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