Off Topic Messages

Papa Bear has died

Wed Nov 30, 2005 6:21 pm

Stan Berenstain, co-creator with his wife, Jan, of the popular children's book series The Berenstain Bears, was once asked whether he was like Papa Bear, whose enthusiasm often got the best of him.

Berenstain, who died Saturday at 82 from complications of cancer, confessed: "I'm afraid the answer is I'm like Papa. I'm not quite as dumb as he is, and Jan's not quite as perfect as Mama."

In 59 years of marriage, Stan and Jan Berenstain produced one wildly successful career, two sons who worked with them, four grandchildren and a virtual library of children's books.

They met on the first day of art school in Phi1adelphia in 1941. They worked as cartoonists before writing a humor book about parenting. It was their first editor at Random House, Theodor Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, who decided that their characters should be named the Berenstain Bears.

The real Berenstains collaborated on more than 200 books that featured the Bear family, from The Great Honey Hunt in 1962 to The Berenstain Bears and the Trouble with Chores, which was released this fall. Over the years, Papa and Mama Bear helped Brother and later Sister survive family vacations, messy rooms and a case of "the galloping greedy gimmies."

It was a fantasy rooted in the realities of daily life and seasoned with gentle moral lessons. The Bear family tackled everything from stage fright to junk food to bullies.

In 2002, Berenstain told the Associated Press that he liked to deal with the unchanging challenges of family life: "Kids still tell fibs and they mess up their rooms and they still throw tantrums in the supermarket." In Bear Country, "nobody gets shot. No violence. There are problems, but they're the kind of typical family problems everyone goes through."

The Berenstain Bears became a daily animated cartoon series on public television and inspired two musicals. The latest, The Berenstain Bears Save Christmas, opened Thanksgiving Day. Stan continued to work on rewrites even as his health failed.

Random House, which announced his death Tuesday, said the books would be continued by Jan and sons Michael and Leo.

I loved their books, as my kids do now. What an incredible gift he gave to all of us. R.I.P. Papa Bear.


Fri Dec 02, 2005 6:56 pm

Well how 'bout that! Thanks, to Tom for the notice.