Join 3,415 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


.
February 27, 2012 1:48 PM   Subscribe

Jan Berenstain, Co-Creator Of Berenstain Bears, Dies [NPR.ORG] Jan Berenstain, who with her husband, Stan, wrote and illustrated the Berenstain Bears books that have charmed preschoolers and their parents for 50 years, has died. She was 88.
posted by Fizz (83 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
[Previously]
posted by Fizz at 1:50 PM on February 27, 2012


My condolences to her family.

I do wish she had not written those books, though.
posted by michaelh at 1:56 PM on February 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh, man. I have spent countless hours reading these books with my grandchildren. Thank you, Jan.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:57 PM on February 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


I do wish she had not written those books, though.

Why?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 1:57 PM on February 27, 2012


.

I do wish she had not written those books, though.

?!
posted by bitmage at 1:57 PM on February 27, 2012


.
posted by jquinby at 1:57 PM on February 27, 2012


In my time as a librarian I saw more kids tear through the Berenstain Bears when they started reading than I can possibly count. I know nothing about her as a person but I've seen the good she did with her life.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 2:00 PM on February 27, 2012 [6 favorites]


I do wish she had not written those books, though.

Not me. I loved these books. I remember being 8 years old and my mom handing me a book. This book: The Berenstain Bears' New Baby'. I didn't really get it until about half-way through the book. I was just excited that I had a new book to read. In the story, little bear is given a new bed and has an important talk with Papa Bear and Mama Bear about something new and exciting.
posted by Fizz at 2:00 PM on February 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


I loved those books, and this is a pretty awful way to start my day. One of the little things I enjoy about my job is that, when we do free reading for our 7th grader ESL classes, there are several of their books in the mix, and our students always seem to choose them.
posted by Ghidorah at 2:04 PM on February 27, 2012


We watch the show every night on Sprout. It's the last show before bed.
posted by stormpooper at 2:04 PM on February 27, 2012


I do wish she had not written those books, though.

Why?


The Berenstain Bears, like Johnny Hart, started out as stuff that was kind of okay pablum, but over time turned into weird, underhanded proselytizing.

The Berenstain Bears stuff is kind of extra insidious as you can start out reading the books to your kid, and over time notice that it starts to get less and less "friendship and fun" and more and more "Focus on the Family."

But, IIRC, it was the original Berenstains’ kid that went a little over the steeple with this stuff, and not the original duo. The whole series has kind of been soured by a late turn into Warrior Jesus territory, but I don't think it's Jan's fault as much as that of her heir.
posted by Shepherd at 2:04 PM on February 27, 2012 [14 favorites]


.
posted by rahnefan at 2:06 PM on February 27, 2012


I was never wild about some of the social/cultural messaging in their books. Very traditional roles, father is always a doofus, mother always in that bag dress, etc.
posted by davidpriest.ca at 2:07 PM on February 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


I was never wild about some of the social/cultural messaging in their books. Very traditional roles, father is always a doofus, mother always in that bag dress, etc.

I haven't read the books in many, many, many years now. And I don't have any kids at the moment. Thinking back on it, you're quite correct. There is a definite recipe to the books but that didn't stop my enjoyment, nor my ability to think critically about culture and family as an adult right now. I'm not Christian, and I'm fairly progressive with my political views when it comes to social issues like: abortion, gay rights, marriage, etc.
posted by Fizz at 2:10 PM on February 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Most of the early stuff was just fine. Stories about sharing, etc. My grandkid's favorite was about finding a baby squirrel, then returning it to the wild.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:11 PM on February 27, 2012


A favorite of my brothers and I was Bears In The Night.
posted by jquinby at 2:13 PM on February 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


Not a fan, but RIP.
They had a whole spinoff line of Christian books (written by their son):

"Berenstain said his parents specialized in creating books about parenting, and incorporated morals into each story. While many fans have praised the books for teaching morality, Berenstain said his parents derived the lessons from "their own personal philosophy about raising children." Berenstain said he and his older brother Leo were raised in a secular household.

"My father was a secular Jew; my mother was raised a nominal Christian," he told The Christian Post. "We weren't raised religious."

posted by mattbucher at 2:13 PM on February 27, 2012


There's definitely some criticism to be made about the bears, in terms of gender roles, and I had noticed the religious overtones in a few of the later ones.

But I always found this series so very comforting as a kid; the warm cozy home, the parents who were happy in their work and wise and protective of their kids, the kids who acted like real kids in being jerks to each other but also in caring about each other.

In some ways, the home I try to make for my kid has that kind of an ideal; a safe, warm, happy place where we all want to be.
posted by emjaybee at 2:15 PM on February 27, 2012 [5 favorites]


I'm not a huge fan of the Bearanstain Bears. I tend to be a children's book purist and I always looked at the Bears and thought, ick, the illustrations are clunky, the text is more so, the lesson is heavy handed and yuck, I don't much like these. Nope, I didn't like them but we ended up with some copies here and there anyway, which is how I got to not much like them any of the approximately 100000 times I read them to my kids. I read them so much, at their demand, that we even wore them out - we went through and I do mean literally through - at least two copies of the Bearanstain Bears Moving Day in our peripatetic lives. At the end of the day, that's what counts. No, they're not great children's books. They can't hold a candle to Frog and Toad or Little Bear or even Mercer Mayer in adult eyes but still, kids love them and that's what it's all about.
posted by mygothlaundry at 2:16 PM on February 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


The Berenstain Bears, like Johnny Hart, started out as stuff that was kind of okay pablum, but over time turned into weird, underhanded proselytizing.

Does that turn into something more offensive as the book progresses? Because I read through the sample pages on amazon and (even as an agnostic Jew), can't rouse up offense at "Some people just don't believe in prayer, but we pray so we can thank God for the blessings of the day." It's not exactly a Chick tract, from what I can tell.

More importantly: .
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:17 PM on February 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm noticing that the Amazon book description linked above begins with, "The Berenstain Bear series helps children learn how God wants them to live every day."
posted by XMLicious at 2:22 PM on February 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


Oddly, I remember absolutely nothing about the actual content of their books. I remember that there were a mother and a father and a son and a daughter, and they lived in a tree, but I can't remember any of their personalities or what they did. This is very different than my memories of other, similar things that I read in my childhood. And I remember zero God talk.

Is it just me?
posted by Bookhouse at 2:24 PM on February 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


There was no God talk in the books you read as a kid. That was added in after their son took over the line.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 2:25 PM on February 27, 2012 [12 favorites]


If you search around for "Berenstain Bears + Christian," you'll also notice a bunch of sites criticizing a series of Berenstain Bears books about science for promoting evolution.
posted by roll truck roll at 2:25 PM on February 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


The father was dopey and the mother was matronly and the brother spunky and the sister bratty. Plots were frequently about the kids and dad being bratty or sloppy or whatever and the mother sighing at them.

This thread spurred me to look up a book that I remember stumbling across in a thrift store when I was 8 or 9 while my mom shopped, which (I'm pretty sure) taught me about boners. It seems unfair to me that the parents' work--which was pretty progressive at times--be dismissed just because their son got into Jesus.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:27 PM on February 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


The most irritating stuff about the God talk in the later books is that they are simply recycled stories from earlier in the line with extra meaningless crud.
posted by mkb at 2:27 PM on February 27, 2012


.

I grew up with the books in the 80s, and was delighted to learn that the Berenstains worked with the Lakota Language Consortium to dub the Berenstain Bears TV show in Lakota as Matȟó Waúŋšila Thiwáhe ("The Compassionate Bear Family.") I really hope that Berenstain's estate continues this work with other endangered/indigenous languages. I'd love to see episodes in Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe).
posted by The demon that lives in the air at 2:30 PM on February 27, 2012 [12 favorites]


[Hello, this is an obit thread. Please make sure from this point forward you are not just doing something that most posters will consider indistinguishable from trolling. Thanks and there's MetaTalk or the contact form if you have questions.]
posted by jessamyn at 2:30 PM on February 27, 2012


.

I grew up reading these books. They were great car books: just grab a handful and shove them in a bag for the back seat.

I never read any of their God Books, but I do remember their Christmas Book. The one in which papa insists they find the perfect Christmas tree, and they spend all Christmas Eve trying to chop down trees - only to piss off the animals that live in them. It was a great book.
posted by Elly Vortex at 2:31 PM on February 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh, and as a kid I wondered why Mama Bear wore a shower cap all the time.
posted by Elly Vortex at 2:33 PM on February 27, 2012 [6 favorites]


.
posted by Smart Dalek at 2:37 PM on February 27, 2012


.

Berenstain Bears were a huge part of my childhood. Great books.

Pho B Wan, I have a copy of Flipsville/Squaresville, much cherished. The Berenstains were fucking funny.
posted by beefetish at 2:39 PM on February 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


.
posted by spinifex23 at 2:44 PM on February 27, 2012


I read almost all of the earlier books (wasn't even aware that people had such negative opinions of a children's books series) as a kid, and one that jumps out at me vividly was the strangers one. I think it did a great job of illustrating how the world can be a scary place if your parents put some fear into you. But I thought it walked the line between caution and fear very well.

I'm sure there's a part of me that exists as a direct result of these books, and the only endorsement I can give is that I'll almost certainly read (some of) them to my kids.

.
posted by thewumpusisdead at 2:45 PM on February 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


I have a weird relationship with the Berenstain Bears. As a young child in a seriously religious home, I actually wasn't allowed to read them because of their "insidious anti-fatherhood message." This was long before Homer Simpson ratcheted that up to 1000, naturally.

So all of my understanding of the series comes from glimpsed-at-a-distance book covers and the occasional illicit perusal in the children's library before I was old enough to dig into actual books. It's really, really weird to discover that the later books turned into strong religious messaging geared towards those same religious people.

All odd reflections aside, though, condolences to her family.
posted by verb at 2:46 PM on February 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


Yeah, I want to emphasize too, Stan & Jan were quite progressive and funny about family and sex and relationships and so forth -- they had written quite a few non-ursine books like PhoBWanKenobi's discovery. The Bears books my daughter had in the late 90s were pretty much the same ones I had, or my younger siblings had, and I don't remember any sort of Christian overtones. I'm disappointed that the books turned in that direction, but the ones I remember from the 80s were excellent ways of teaching kids, from a kid-like standpoint, but without talking down to them. I remember the "starting kindergarten" book that my little sister had -- I was like twelve at the time and I enjoyed it :) Also, it seems to me there was one with a cutaway of their tree-house that fed my love of architecture. Good artists, good writers, and if things changed after the son took over, I put that on him and not them.

And: .
posted by AzraelBrown at 2:49 PM on February 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


Not books from my childhood per se, but I read them to my little sister. They were quite well received by their intended audience. Like a lot of things that are actually aimed at toddlers as opposed to their parents, they weren't the most thrilling stories to read for an adult but she liked them (much like Mister Rogers).

.
posted by doctor_negative at 2:50 PM on February 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


I had some Berenstain Bears books as a kid. And very fond memories of The Berenstain Bears Science FairFair. I remember some of my earlier reading efforts with Inside, Outside, Upside Down.

Now, with a kid of my own and looking for books, I thought I'd get some Berenstain Bears books for him and found that sometime after I stopped reading them they'd turned into a vehicle for their son's evangelism.

So a . for Jan, and the memories she gave me, and WTF? for her letting her kid do that to the legacy of her and her husband.
posted by sotonohito at 2:54 PM on February 27, 2012


.

Our kids loved these books, and while they sometimes crossed over into the icky, they was a sweetness to them that was sincere. Our kids viewed them as comfort food, and we were OK with them. And a few of them were pretty good -- thinking specifically about the baseball one, and the one where they rent a cabin in the woods and it turns out to be nothing like it was represented to be.
posted by mosk at 3:00 PM on February 27, 2012


.

Those books were my favorite as a little kid. As emjaybee said, they were very comforting books. I do remember my mom pointing out some sexist overtones, but overall, my experience of those books was overwhelmingly positive.

I was pretty shocked a while back when someone told me about the Christian stuff - I have absolutely no memory of any of that. So either it was just really subtle, it started after my time, or my parents just didn't buy those particular books.
posted by lunasol at 3:00 PM on February 27, 2012


So a . for Jan, and the memories she gave me, and WTF? for her letting her kid do that to the legacy of her and her husband.

Seriously. I never knew until this thread that the Bears had descended into godbothering.

I had a whole pile of Berenstain Bears books as a child, and I bought a pile of them for my own children. Just the ones I remembered from my own childhood, and the ones that made it through both Monsters are now in a box with other books, awaiting their children, should they choose to have any. We'll just pretend that the only ones in existence are those by Stan and Jan.
posted by MissySedai at 3:05 PM on February 27, 2012


We still have the pile of books that I read to my kids in the '90s. Yeah, Dad was a bit of a blowhard, but he obviously loved his kids and his work building furniture supported the family. And Mom stayed home, until she and her friends started a shop to sell their quilts to bring in more money. Really, considering the stuff that's out there, I really don't get the criticism.

And I notice Slate's back to kicking Jan's corpse a couple of times, like they did after Stan died. Sounds like someone's got issues.
posted by Bill Peschel at 3:26 PM on February 27, 2012


.
posted by tommasz at 3:28 PM on February 27, 2012


> Sounds like someone's got issues.

Is it me? Because I think that article's great. My daughter is always grabbing those books at the library, and I hate 80% of them. They're mostly humorless, the gender roles are annoying, and the kids are jerks to each other.

They fall into the category of children's books where a Lesson Is To Be Learned, which will be demonstrated by lots of examples of What Not To Do. But if you say "don't hit your brother" to a child what the child is going to hear is "don't hit your brother." I wish they just had the brother and sister bear being freaking nice to each other from the start.
posted by The corpse in the library at 3:34 PM on February 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


.
posted by drezdn at 3:57 PM on February 27, 2012


.

I had a few of the books, I enjoyed them. All the other stuff - well.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 3:57 PM on February 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've always had a mild, unexamined distaste for the Berenstain Bears books. Reports of Jan's passing led me to do some poking at this as I am uncomfortable when I feel a dislike for which I don't have a specific justification. Was it just the embarrassing mob cap and the sometimes bratty behavior portrayed? I came to realize that my exposure to the books came mostly after the son took over and the later, crappier, and more preachy books were sold among the tabloids in supermarket checkout lines. I still don't like the art, the weird sexism and the unintentionally unsympathetic portrayal of the characters in any of the books but at least I better understand my reaction. Thanks for the post.
posted by Morrigan at 4:08 PM on February 27, 2012


.
posted by lord_wolf at 4:08 PM on February 27, 2012


.
posted by lilkeith07 at 4:16 PM on February 27, 2012


I don't remember loving these books as a child, but I liked them well enough. Now I have a 2.5 year old, and she really enjoys The Big Red Kite, and Inside Outside Upside Down.

I didn't know about the son's books, but I think I'll consider them as not canon.
posted by deliquescent at 4:18 PM on February 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Agreed that the later books ruined the series. Yes, even the early ones were preachy, but they were preachy about important things like sharing and not being a bully. I read many of these on my parents' laps, and later, by myself. Whatever their current legacy, they've left me many fond memories from my childhood.

.
posted by smirkette at 4:21 PM on February 27, 2012


.
posted by ZeusHumms at 4:23 PM on February 27, 2012


I always felt uncomfortable with the books as a kid- they were condescending, the relationships between characters didn't match anything I saw in the real world, and the books weren't fun, they just preached.

So yeah, if that counts as kicking Jan's corpse, count me in.
posted by dunkadunc at 4:25 PM on February 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Slate has just never forgiven the Berenstains for Timothy Treadwell.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:29 PM on February 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


I guess I missed the later books. We had the ones where they went to the moon, ate junk food, went on a diet and exercise binge, and had a really shitty vacation. Papa bear scared the fuck out of everyone camping in the woods once, but Mama bear had the last laugh.

Good times. Thanks, Jan.
posted by Xoebe at 4:35 PM on February 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


I've recently started reading a couple of (old, used, non-churchy) Berenstain Bear books to my child and I really have just one question:

Why don't they have names? Seriously, everyone else has a name - Cousin Fred, Uncle Willie. But not the Bears themselves!

It's creepy. Are they in hiding? Witness a mob hit over honey?
I keep waiting for The Berenstain Bears Enter Witness Protection to be published.

But while I make jokes, it's clear even from this thread that Jan and her husband had a big impact on a lot of lives and clearly led a lot of kids into the wonderful world of literature, and for that we should be grateful.
posted by madajb at 4:41 PM on February 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


We had the ones where they... ate junk food

I was just about to post about that one. I subbed in a second grade room recently that had that book out as part of a health unit. In it, the bears' doctor decides that the kids are too "chubby" and puts them on a diet. It shows their chubby figures from the front, side, and back. I was very glad I didn't have to teach that book that day.
posted by that's how you get ants at 4:43 PM on February 27, 2012


.
posted by Meatafoecure at 4:46 PM on February 27, 2012


I have a weird relationship with the Berenstain Bears. As a young child in a seriously religious home, I actually wasn't allowed to read them because of their "insidious anti-fatherhood message." This was long before Homer Simpson ratcheted that up to 1000, naturally.

So all of my understanding of the series comes from glimpsed-at-a-distance book covers and the occasional illicit perusal in the children's library before I was old enough to dig into actual books. It's really, really weird to discover that the later books turned into strong religious messaging geared towards those same religious people.


That's funny, because these books were forbidden fruit for me for exactly the opposite reason: my lefty agnostic parents wouldn't buy them because they thought the mom and sister characters were sexist and reactionary. (And this was back before the series turned evangelical!) So of course whenever one showed up at my daycare I would be all over it.

I think doctor_negative's assessment is right on. These were books that were actually aimed straight at young kids, and not packed full of flourishes that would go over the kids' heads. When you're that age, it might be good for your mental development or something if you read books that are unnecessarily clever, but it's not really a prerequisite for enjoying the books. I mean, eventually I came to love the original Milne Winnie-the-Pooh books for their loopy epistemological meta-ness and hidden social commentary, but when I was five it was just like "Yay, a story about kids and fuzzy animals!", and if I preferred it over other books it was mostly because it was one of my dad's favorites to read and I liked having stuff in common with him. (Also, it was full of opportunities to do silly voices. The man does excellent silly voices.)

Basically, the Berenstain Bears were one of the first things that I read just because I liked it, and not because my parents or my teachers or my friends liked it and I wanted to emulate them or impress them. I could just go sit in the corner at daycare and read one of the books on my own and not have to care whether anyone else was into it. Which was pretty cool.
posted by nebulawindphone at 4:48 PM on February 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


Charles Krauthammer: "It is not just the smugness and complacency of the stories that is so irritating. That is a common affliction of children’s literature. The raging offense of the Berenstains is the post-feminist Papa Bear, the Alan Alda of grizzlies, a wimp so passive and fumbling he makes Dagwood Bumstead look like Batman."
posted by brundlefly at 4:51 PM on February 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


You are only a true Berenstain Bear fan if whenever you see a coin-operated ride outside a store you cry "Hey! It's the bucking duck from the mall!"

We read so many of those books when my boys were little. I have whole chunks of them memorized. One that that always bothered me was the little tuft of hair they had on their wrists and feet. Why this bothered me, I do not know. Another thing that bothered me was that the Bear family had no names. They were just this generic family. When they had to add friends and neighbors in later books all sorts of weird bear related surnames were invented. I remember Lizzie Bruin was Sister Bear's friend. I guess when you're reading one of those books over and over to a rapt 3 year old you start noticing weird things.

Anyway: .
posted by Biblio at 4:52 PM on February 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


Duncadunc, I think I'm with you on the Berenstains. As a kid (say 5-6ish) I was always confused about exactly what kind of kids the books were intended for, because I couldn't relate to them at all.

The cutaway treehouse was pretty awesome, though.

Also, .
posted by Aquaman at 5:18 PM on February 27, 2012


I do wish she had not written those books, though.

I'm not sure she did write all of them. I have an ex-coworker who said that when he first came to N. America from Scotland, one of his first jobs was as contract writer for the Berenstains. He said they took the stories he submitted and tuned them up to meet their standards. He also said he was one of several people in this role over the period he knew them.

This is a person with a well-developed ego, and I take everything he says with a grain of salt, but he's also a smart guy and I see no reason to disbelieve this story.
posted by sneebler at 5:19 PM on February 27, 2012


I meant to add that I enjoyed reading those books to my kids when they were little. Especially the reactionary ones.
posted by sneebler at 5:21 PM on February 27, 2012


I thought they were the Berenstein bears, and that they changed it to the less-Jewy but very ugly "stain" from "stein" to placate the goyim. But maybe my parents just read it that way so I'd know that bears could be Jewish. Anyway:

.
posted by clockzero at 5:36 PM on February 27, 2012


Well, the Berenstains had some detractors for the Right, like the consistently nasty Charles Krauthammer. (Op-ed from 1989, via Wonkette) But I just think he's jealous because "Krauthammer" is a far uglier name than "Berenstain".
posted by oneswellfoop at 5:49 PM on February 27, 2012


Seriously. I never knew until this thread that the Bears had descended into godbothering.

Me either. I read my kids the originals, and they loved 'em. Read 'em to the grandkids, and they thought the stories were OK, but weren't as enthused as the older generation. I'm not sure they aged as well as they could have, or perhaps it's just that my kids had no TV, and the grandkids have that and other distractions.

Yeah, Dad was a bit of a blowhard, but he obviously loved his kids and his work building furniture supported the family. And Mom stayed home, until she and her friends started a shop to sell their quilts to bring in more money.

They're BEARS, people. Most bears tend to be fairly conservative, if not outright members of the Republican tea party. They certainly don't believe in sharing beds, chairs, or porridge.

. Goodbye Ms. Berenstain
posted by BlueHorse at 7:06 PM on February 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh, goodness. I read The Berenstain Bears’ Nature Guide and The Berenstain Bears’ Science Fair so often, I knew them by heart, and I learnt things I still remember to this day. Fantastic books. I also liked Old Hat, New Hat and the one where the bears sneak out of bed at night.

I had no idea there'd been so many others published, nor did I realise they'd gone religious, but I will forever be thankful for those two books. Cheers to you, Ms Berenstain.
posted by Georgina at 8:27 PM on February 27, 2012


I don't think I had any Berenstein Bears books when I was little, and I suspect that's because my parents didn't care for the sexism and gender stereotypes I'm reading about here.

However, my grandparents lived a day's drive away, so we usually only visited them once a year. When we visited, they would go to their local library and check out these "kits" of books and activities designed to keep bored kids occupied for a few days; a pretty cool idea, and one of the books that was always in my kit was The Bear Detectives. I really don't remember a lot about it other than thinking the illustration style was a little curious, but I liked the book because I associated it with those trips to my grandparents'.

.
posted by usonian at 8:40 PM on February 27, 2012


There was a long period of time when I'd look forward each night to my father reading me a Berenstain Bear book, and later when I would read them myself. Now I've just started reading them to my son.

.
posted by furtive at 9:16 PM on February 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


I love the Berenstain Bears--whom I called the Bernstein Bears right into my thirties--when I was a kid in the 70s. I still have my battered copy of Inside Outside Upside Down. It was one of the first books I read, and likewise one of my daughter's first. It was utterly heartbreaking to me when I bought a handful of new books six or seven years ago and saw how terrible they had become. They were truly unreadable.
posted by looli at 9:33 PM on February 27, 2012


All of this adult critique of the Berenstain Bears, both in this thread and in the linked punditry, makes me sad. May the children who grow up on these books be less jaded and condemnatory. Thank you, Jan.
posted by Apocryphon at 1:30 AM on February 28, 2012 [3 favorites]


.
posted by Gelatin at 3:06 AM on February 28, 2012


.
posted by IndigoRain at 3:25 AM on February 28, 2012


I once had to dress as Papa Berenstain Bear for a Storytime event. I've never been hugged as much.
posted by jonmc at 4:48 AM on February 28, 2012 [4 favorites]


I read these as a kid and then later I read them to my kids.

The quality of the art definitely seemed to degrade as time went on. The nifty tree house all-wood details got dropped in favor of straight lines and bland decor as the story focus got preachy.

The old stuff is still great.
posted by unixrat at 6:40 AM on February 28, 2012


.
posted by NordyneDefenceDynamics at 7:15 AM on February 28, 2012


.
posted by axismundi at 7:20 AM on February 28, 2012


.
posted by likeatoaster at 9:39 AM on February 28, 2012


.
posted by luckynerd at 9:57 AM on February 28, 2012


Wikipedia:

The Berenstains' first bear story, titled "Freddy Bear's Spanking", arrived on the desk of Theodor Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, who had found phenomenal success in 1957 with The Cat in the Hat and was now editor of a Random House series called "Beginner Books".

Geisel took on the manuscript, but spent the next two years ruthlessly challenging the Berenstains to make improvements to the writing and structure and to connect with their characters on a deeper level. He asked questions such as "What kind of pipe tobacco does Papa Bear smoke?" and urged them to analyze the relationship between Papa Bear and Small Bear, to which Stan responded, mystified, "Well, he's the father, and he's the son".

posted by dunkadunc at 1:44 PM on February 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


"...but spent the next two years ruthlessly challenging the Berenstains to make improvements to the writing and structure and to connect with their characters on a deeper level. He asked questions such as "What kind of pipe tobacco does Papa Bear smoke?" and urged them to analyze the relationship between Papa Bear and Small Bear, to which Stan responded, mystified, "Well, he's the father, and he's the son"."

This, from the guy who brought us Hop On Pop?
posted by jquinby at 6:49 AM on February 29, 2012


I was reminded of this tonight. In The Berenstain Bears' Moving Day, the text explains that the moving bears pack all the Bear Family's belongings carefully into the truck. Meanwhile, the illustration is of a moving bear overloaded, with things nearly falling out of the truck held in by a straining piece of rope.

How many other gags like this are there?
posted by mkb at 4:35 PM on March 1, 2012


« Older France has passed a law that all cars must carry a...  |  The making of Please Hammer, D... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments