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Old Feb 27, 2012, 07:22 PM   #1
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Jan Berenstain dies at 88

Amidst all the uproars in Syria, shootings in Chardon, Republican grandstanding for votes, Anonymous, Wikileaks, etc., here's a story likely to be missed by the mainstream media about the passing of someone whose writing definitely touched everyone over the past 50 years.


Jan Berenstain, Co-Creator Of Berenstain Bears, Dies

by The Associated Press
February 27, 2012

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.

Berenstain, a longtime resident of Solebury in southeastern Pennsylvania, suffered a severe stroke on Thursday and died Friday without regaining consciousness, her son Mike Berenstain said.

The gentle tales of Mama Bear, Papa Bear, Brother Bear and Sister Bear were inspired by the Berenstain children, and later their grandchildren. The stories address children's common concerns and aim to offer guidance on subjects like dentist visits, peer pressure, a new sibling or summer camp.

The first Berenstain Bears book, The Big Honey Hunt, was published in 1962. Over the years, more than 300 titles have been released in 23 languages most recently in Arabic and Icelandic and have become a rite of passage for generations of young readers.

"They say jokes don't travel well, but family humor does," said Jan Berenstain told The Associated Press in 2011. "Family values is what we're all about."

Stan and Jan Berenstain, both Philadelphia natives, were 18 when they met on their first day at art school in 1941.

They married in 1946, after Stan Berenstain returned home from serving as a medical illustrator at a stateside Army hospital during World War II. During that time, Jan Berenstain worked as a draftsman for the Army Corps of Engineers and as a riveter building Navy seaplanes.

Before their family of bear books was born, the young couple had already built a successful career in periodicals. A cartoon series they produced called "All in the Family" ran in McCall's and Good Housekeeping magazines for 35 years, and their art appeared in magazines including Collier's and The Saturday Evening Post.

Stan and Jan Berenstain created hundreds of books until Stan Berenstain's death in 2005 at the age of 82.

Mike Berenstain is an illustrator who collaborated on the books with his mother in recent years. His elder brother, writer Leo Berenstain, is involved with the business end of the family franchise.

The books in recent years have tackled modern subjects such as online safety and childhood obesity, and the bears (or their human helpers) answer children's emails and letters, but the goal is to tell enduring, universal stories. Perennial favorites cover challenges of getting kids to doing chores, defuse fears of the first day of school and teach values of kindness and generosity.

"It's wonderful to do something you love for so many years," Jan Berenstain told the AP in 2011. "Not everyone has that."

About 260 million copies of Berenstain Bears books have been held in the hands of children and their parents since the earliest books were published with the help of Theodor Geisel, a children's books editor at Random House better known as Dr. Seuss.

Mike Berenstain said his mother worked daily at her home studio in an idyllic part of Bucks County, north of Philadelphia, which served as inspiration for the books' setting. He said he will continue writing and illustrating future Berenstain books.

"Every day she was very productive," he said. "She was working on two books and had been doing illustrations until the day before she passed away."

Jan Berenstain is survived by her two sons and four grandchildren.
I know what I'm reading before bed tonight. Thanks for helping me grow, Jan.

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Old Feb 27, 2012, 07:35 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by bradl View Post
I know what I'm reading before bed tonight. Thanks for helping me grow, Jan.
Very sweet. Thank you for a smile.

I am certainly old enough to have read these, perhaps in the Saturday Evening Post? Even in the bay window, upstairs at my local library, when I was just a wee lad.
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Old Feb 27, 2012, 10:14 PM   #3
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How sad! I loved those books as a kid.
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Old Feb 28, 2012, 12:40 AM   #4
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Very unfortunate, One of my most favorite book series as a child.
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Old Feb 28, 2012, 09:24 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by ucfgrad93 View Post
How sad! I loved those books as a kid.
That makes two of us and somehow I don't think we are alone with this statement. Very sad....
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Old Feb 29, 2012, 01:22 PM   #6
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Very sad. I used to love those books (and watched some of the movies too).
You know what they say... once you go Mac you ain't never gonna go back.
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Old Mar 1, 2012, 11:59 AM   #7
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Dr. Seuss told them to change their author names from Stanley and Janice to Stan and Jan (so they'd rhyme) and to name the bears with their own last name. Smart man, that Mr. Geisel.
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Old Mar 8, 2012, 08:27 AM   #8
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My kids loved her work, probably more than Dr Suess even.
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Old Mar 8, 2012, 09:01 AM   #9
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Read The BB Go To School every year with my little sister before our first day of school. Definitely my favorite children's books growing up. If I ever have children they'll know the whole series for sure!
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