Library Author Spotlight

 

Stan & Jan Berenstain

berenstain

the creators of everyone's favorite bears

    

Stanley Melvin Berenstain and Janice Marian Grant were both born in 1923 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, growing up in families struggling through the Great Depression. They met in 1941 while attending the Philadelphia Museum School of Industrial Arts. Stan and Jan were married right after world war II and began careers as a magazine cartoonist team. They published cartoons focusing on humor about children and families in The Saturday Evening Post, Colliers Magazine, McCall's, Good Housekeeping and many more.

Since both their sons were big Dr. Seuss fans, Stan and Jan decided to try their hands at creating a children's book themselves. Their efforts became The Big Honey Hunt, which featured Papa, Mama and, at that time, Small Bear. It was released in 1962 with Dr. Seuss (aka Ted Seuss Geisel) himself as the editor and publisher.

More than two hundred Berenstain Bears books have followed in the fifty-three years since, and total sales of the series have topped 250 million copies. A few changes have come along the way: Small Bear became Brother Bear with the birth of Sister in 1974, and the littlest sister, Honey, arrived in 2000. The names, "Papa," "Mama," "Brother," and "Sister," were chosen for ease of reading and to emphasize their roles in the family. Until the late ‘80s, Stan and Jan continued their work as magazine cartoonists along with their children's book creation. The popularity of the Berenstain Bears spread beyond the world of children’s books. The first animated adaptation, an NBC Christmas special called The Berenstain Bears’ Christmas Tree, was produced in 1979. Four other NBC seasonal specials followed in the early ‘80s. From 1985-1986, two seasons of a Saturday morning Berenstain Bears cartoon aired on CBS, and in 2002, PBS created a season of daily Berenstain Bears cartoons. The characters have also been featured as dolls, toys, games, puzzles, software, clothing and many other products.

After a long illness, Stan passed away in November 2005, at the age of eighty-two. Jan died in February 2012, at the age of eighty-eight. Their son, Mike, continues to write and illustrate Berenstain Bears books on all sorts of subjects--everything from going for a ride on the train to the golden rule. He lives and works in the rolling countryside of Eastern Pennsylvania--a place that looks very much like Berenstain Bear Country.

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