‘Berenstain Bears’ co-creator dies
PHILADELPHIA (AP) – Stan Berenstain, who with his wife created the popular children’s books about the Berenstain Bears, has died.
He died in Pennsylvania on Saturday, said Audra Boltion, a spokeswoman for HarperCollins Children’s Books in New York. He was 82. In more than 200 books, the Berenstain Bears, written and illustrated by Stan and Jan Berenstain, helped children for 40 years cope with trips to the dentist, babysitters, eating junk food and cleaning their messy rooms.
The first Berenstain Bears book, The Big Honey Hunt, was published in 1962. The couple developed the series with children’s author Theodor Geisel – better known as Dr. Seuss, then head of children’s publishing at Random House – with the goal of teaching children to read while entertaining them.
The books show children – and parents – how to deal with a long list of childhood challenges, from finding ways to share and watch less TV to overcoming the “gimmies” and not succumbing to the “in-crowd.”
Despite changes in society in the last four decades, little has changed in “Bears Country.”
“Kids still tell fibs and they mess up their rooms and they still throw tantrums in the supermarket,” Stan Berenstain told The Associated Press in 2002. “Nobody gets shot. No violence. There are problems, but they’re the kind of typical family problems everyone goes through.”
Stan and Jan Berenstain began drawing together when they met at Philadelphia Museum School of Industrial Art in 1941.
The two married soon after he got out of Second World War-era army service and began submitting cartoons to magazines. They became contributors to The Saturday Evening Post, McCalls and Collier’s.
In their early years of collaboration, the couple wrote the All in the Family cartoon series for McCall’s and Good Housekeeping. In 1962, they began an association with Geisel, who suggested that they write for the juvenile market.
Their sons Leo and Michael joined them, and many of the recent books are credited collectively to “The Berenstains.”
The characters are the subject of their own public television program, DVDs and a Christmas musical.
In addition to his wife, Berenstain is survived by his two sons. A private memorial service was scheduled for Wednesday.