Whether you loved them or hated them, the “Berenstain Bears” series of books was a big staple of childhood from the 60’s onward in America.
More than 300 books in the Berenstain Bears series have been published, churned out by Stan Berenstain and co-creator Jan Berenstain about a family of domestic bears living in a house made from a tree and moralizing all the livelong day. While the books proved immensely popular with kids, parents didn’t always care for the syrupy-sweet storylines- Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer back in 1989 ragged on “the post-feminist Papa Bear, the Alan Alda of grizzlies, a wimp so passive and fumbling he makes Dagwood Bumstead look like Batman” in a scathing column about the eternally popular Berenstain Bears.
Despite some ire from parents bored by the formulaic books, the series enjoyed a long run. Co-creator Stan Berenstain passed away back in 2005 at the age of 82, and late last week, Jan suffered a massive stroke. The year before her death, Berenstain commented to the Associated Press on the books enduring popularity across many cultures. She said:
“They say jokes don’t travel well, but family humor does… Family values is what we’re all about.”
Of her five decades in publishing, Jan Berenstain said:
“It’s wonderful to do something you love for so many years… Not everyone has that.”
Berenstain’s son Mike Berenstain commented on his mother’s day-to-day life after her passing, saying she remained active working on the series up until she died:
“Every day she was very productive… She was working on two books and had been doing illustrations until the day before she passed away.”
Mike Berenstain confirmed he will continue to work on the Berenstain brand following his mother’s death.