Did you know Dr. Seuss named The Berenstain Bears?
Ted Geisel, also known as Dr. Seuss, was Jan and Stan’s editor for their first books. Stan and Jan explain in their biography Down a Sunny Dirt Road: “When Ted showed us our second book, the cover looked like it was supposed to. There was Papa riding downhill with Small Bear hanging on for dear life, with the book’s title in big yellow letters. But something new had been added. In a dropped-out white box, it said, ‘Another Adventure of the Berenstain Bears.’ We were puzzled. It was very nice. But we didn’t quite get it. We asked Ted what it meant.
“You know,” he explained, “your bears are a vaudeville troupe like Murgatroyd’s Mules and Dugan’s Dogs.” It never would have occurred to us to name the bears after ourselves. After all, we were the Berenstains and our bears were the Bears. And that wasn’t all. He sharpened and shortened our byline from “Stanley and Janice Berenstain” (which it was on our first book The Big Honey Hunt) to “Stan and Jan Berenstain.” So Dr. Seuss not only named our bears, he renamed us.”
Do you recognize the voice of Brother Bear and wonder who it is?
It’s Michael Cera – Michael is a Canadian actor best known for his roles in Arrested Development, Youth in Revolt, Superbad, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist and Juno. He was the voice of Brother Bear in the 2003 television series.
Do you know two women who voiced Mama Bear?
Ruth Buzzi – Ruth is an American comedienne and actress in theater, film, and television. She is best known for her performances on the comedy-variety show Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In from 1968 to 1973. Ruth also played many other roles including Freaky Friday, Cactus Jack, and Sesame Street. She was the voice of Mama Bear in the 1985 television series for which she was nominated for a daytime Emmy.
Camilla Scott – Camilla hails from Toronto, Canada. She is known for her work in 3 Men and a Baby, Tommy Boy, Due South, and Guiding Light. She performs regularly in theaters in both Ontario and New York and performed in: Mamma Mia!, The Pajama Game, Three Days of Rain (also co-produced this show), Aladdin, Jack and the Beanstalk, Crazy for You, Shenandoah, and Evita. Camilla was the voice of Mama Bear in the 2003 television series.
Did you grow up singing the theme song from the Berenstain Bears= television show?Somewhere deep in Bear Country lives the Berenstain Bear family. They’re kind of furry around the torso. They=re a lot like people, only moreso. The bear fact is that they=re just like you and me. The only difference is they live in a tree. The Berenstain Bears. When things go wrong as things might do, The Berenstain Bears will find a way through. Mama, Papa, Sister and Brother will always be there for each other. The bear fact is that they can be sweet as honey. Sometimes you’ll find they might be just plain funny. The Berenstain Bears. The Berenstain Bears.
Do you know who performed the song?
Leanne Womack – Leanne is an award-winning American country songwriter and singer. She has won Country Album of the Year and Female Vocalist of the Year and known for many, many songs including I Hope You Dance.
Stan and Jan were always concerned about conserving Mother Earth and eating healthy foods. Over the years, they wrote a number of Berenstain Bears’ stories dealing with these topics.
As we celebrate Earth Day on April 22, let’s all find at least one simple way to be green! In the Berenstains’ newest book, The Berenstain Bears Go Green, Mama, Papa, Brother, Sister, and Honey are doing just that!
Two Earthsaver Calendars were published in 1992 and 1993 by Random House.
Now grandson Sam is following in Stan and Jan’s footsteps. A graduate of Eastern Mennonite University with a B.A in Environmental Sustainability, Sam spent a season in NYC working on two urban farms studying the practices of city produce production. With a passion for building a community around youth-oriented agriculture, Sam helped found Project GROWS in the Harrisonburg, Virginia, area where he spends his days sheet mulching, harvesting, and teaching about sustainable farming. Project GROWS is a 10-acre, non-profit youth-oriented community farm with a mission of improving the overall health of children and youth in the tri-county area through community farming that includes hands-on experience, nutrition education, and access to healthy food.
To celebrate Earth Day and the release of The Berenstain Bears Go Green, watch our Facebook page from April 19-22 to enter our give-away. Five lucky entries will receive a copy of the book signed by Mike Berenstain.
We are very excited to announce the new Berenstain Bears Storybook Bible. Join Papa, Mama, Brother, Sister, and Honey Bear as they read favorite Bible stories together and imagine what it would have been like to see Adam and Eve in the garden, watch Noah build the ark, and listen as Jesus tells a parable to the people.
Enjoy watching this short video clip …
Mike Berenstain was interviewed about the Storybook Bible by Care Baldwin from CHRI Family Radio. You can listen to the interview here.
The Storybook Bible is part of the Berenstain Bears Living Lights series published by Zonderkidz and is available in bookstores and through our on-line store.
Recently several fans have asked why Mama is wearing a vest in recent Berenstain Bears’ stories. Mike Berenstain provided the following answer:
My mother, Jan, began putting the vest on Mama in about year 2000. She said she was fed up with painting all those white polka dots on Mama’s dress in every book and wanted to reduce the number by covering up some of them with the vest. We’ve kept the vest ever since as a standard part of Mama’s costume.
And now you know why Mama wears a vest!
A Facebook follower recently asked, “why the cover art for The Berenstain Bears Meet Santa Bear changed from the original version and if other Berenstain Bear books have had more than one cover art?”
Mike Berenstain provided the following answer:
The Berenstain Bears Meet Santa Bear, first published in 1984, is the only title in the First Time Book series which was ever given a new cover. This was a consequence of that peculiarity of the publishing business—the system of “returns.”
Unlike most other consumer products, books are typically sold to bookstores and other accounts on a basis that copies unsold after a given period may be returned to the publisher for credit toward future orders. This practice was started during the Great Depression when book sales were languishing and publishers offered inducements for larger orders. It has persisted even though it long since ceased to make any real economic sense.
The greatest problem with the system is that it encourages publishers to promote, and booksellers to demand, over-optimistically large orders for books that it is believed will be popular—the theory being that, if they don’t sell them all, they can always be returned. When this happens books that experience large returns can be unfairly stigmatized as not living up to expectations even though they may have sold quite well by any other standard. This is what happened with the Santa Bear title.
After it was published in 1984, it sold very well during subsequent holiday seasons. It was viewed by its publisher, Random House, as a reliable seasonal standby. Then, during one holiday season in the early 1990’s, it was decided to market it as their lead promotional Christmas children’s book. It was shipped to the stores in record numbers. Though it sold just as well as in previous years, there were many copies left unsold from the massive distribution program. These copies became “returns.”
Concerned that this mismanaged marketing effort would depress sales in future years, Random House pulled the book out of distribution for several holiday seasons, then asked Stan and Jan to create a new cover for its re-release. It has been a bestseller in every holiday season since.
During 2012, our blog has reflected on the Berenstain Bears and their creators Jan, Stan, and Mike Berenstain as they marked their 50th Anniversary. It has been fun to look back through all those years of art files and reminisce about the many, many adventures the Berenstain Bears have had down a sunny dirt road in Bear Country. It was also a very difficult year, as we lost our dear Jan in February.
In reviewing the files, the very first Berenstain Bear sketch was found, as well as the art work that led up to the first Berenstain Bears’ book – The Big Honey Hunt. This title was published in 1962 as part of Random House’s Beginner Books series with editor Ted Geisel (aka Dr. Seuss).
Finding the lost manuscript for what was originally written to be the second book in this series – Nothing Ever Happens at the South Pole – and seeing it published during the 50th year was very special for Jan. She took great delight in bringing the early sketches from the manuscript to life.
The early readers were followed by the First Time Reader series, the first of which was The Berenstain Bears and the New Baby, published in 1974.
It was interesting to discover that many children, now-grown-up from the 1980s had no idea our sweet little Honey was born in The Berenstain Bears and Baby Makes Five in 2000.
To celebrate our very special anniversary, HarperCollins Children’s Books and Random House Children’s Books worked with Jan and Mike to document the creation of the Berenstain Bears. These phenomenal interviews were filmed just 3 weeks before Jan’s death. If you haven’t had time to watch the five short video interviews, you can find them on the video link on the Berenstain-ology tab of the Parents Den on our website.
Many of this year’s blogs were based on Jan and Stan’s Down a Sunny Dirt Road: An Autobiography, written in 2002. While our blog will certainly continue, as we come to the final blog of our 50th year, we thought it only fitting to end with words from Stan and Jan:
A question we are often asked arises from the perception that at this point in our lives, we could easily retire. The comment usually runs along the following lines: “I know what I would do if I were in your position. I’d retire and travel.” The answer to that question is twofold. Why in the world would we retire? We thrive on what we do and we’re going to keep on doing it, we say (only partially tongue in cheek), until we get it wrong. As for travel–we do travel. Extensively. We go to a lovely, salubrious place where honeybees hum, where rainbow trout march rainbow skies, where the rivers run clean and the air is sweet, where there’s beauty around every bend in the sunny dirt road. It’s a wonderful place. It’s called Bear Country. We go there every day.