Today children young and old mourn the death of Stan Berenstain, co-creator of the famed children’s classic stories about the Berenstain’s Bears. The 82-year old cartoonist died Saturday in Pennsylvania and is survived by his co-author and wife, Jan Berenstain.
Philadelphia-born Stan met Jan while they attended the Phildelphia Museum of Industrial Art in 1941 and soon began drawing together. Their cartoon feature It’s All in the Family, found in The Saturday Evening Post and Good Housekeeping magazines, quickly captured the hearts of America; but the true beauty of their voice and wisdom came in the 1960s when the husband-wife team developed the loveable Berenstain Bears series. And was it not fitting that their Random House editor be the wonderful genius, Ted Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss? Who better to help them develop books that both teach and entertain?
Teach and entertain they did. With the publishing of The Big Honey Hunt, the artistic duo created more than 250 books about their lovable bears, and for more than forty years children have delighted in the stories and learned life’s lessons along the way. The age-old problems of messy rooms, telling white lies, and throwing full-fledged continue to haunt parents today, and so the books remain relevant in a world that often seems so different from the time when the bears first padded onto the American family scene. With more than 260 million copies of the books sold, the Berenstain Bears is the bestselling children’s book series and the TV show ranks in the top ten of PBS’s shows for 2-5 year olds.
Only weeks ago, in an announcement that assured the Berenstain’s legacy continued growth, Pizza Hut’s Leslie Tubbs, BOOK IT! Beginners program director, said, “We’re very excited about featuring the Berenstain’s Bears in this year’s BOOK IT! Beginners program. . . The Berenstain Bears have warmed the hearts of millions of children and are sure to make reading even more enjoyable for the children enrolled in this year’s program.”
For a more detailed look at Stan Berenstain’s creative life, take a look at Down A Sunny Dirt Road, the autobiography he and his wife authored. You’ll delight in their stories of a life shared with Dr. Seuss and those wacky, but still wonderful Berenstain Bears. To quote Kate Jackson, vice president and editor-in-chief of HarperCollins Children’s Books, “There is nothing the Bear family likes better than a good book.”
If you’d like to hear Jan and Stan Berenstain talk about their wonderland career in Bear Country, check out the Library of Congress 2003 National Book Festival. Be sure and watch both webcasts (parts 1 and 2). You can also read their Book Page Interview.
The main content of this article was cross-posted on Blogcritics.org