Halloween Fun with the Berenstain Bears

Halloween is right around the corner and we have chosen our spookiest collection of Berenstain Bear books for you to get into the spirit. The Bear cubs go on ghost walks, brave a creepy forest, a spooky tree, and learn how to conquer their fears of the dark and shadows. Find these books online with the links provided, at your local book store, or library. Happy Reading & Happy Halloween!

Trick Or TreatThe Berenstain Bears Trick Or Treat

 

Spooky Old TreeThe Berenstain Bears and the Spooky Old Tree

 

Haunted HouseThe Berenstain Bears and the Haunted House

 

In the DarkThe Berenstain Bears In The Dark

 

Spooky ShadowsThe Berenstain Bears and the Spooky Shadows

 

Get the scarediesThe Berenstain Bears Get the Scaredies

 

Ghost WalkThe Berenstain Bears Go on a Ghost Walk

 

Bears In the NightBears in the Night

 

Ghost of the ForestThe Berenstain Bears and the Ghost of the Forest

 

 

 

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55 Years of the Berenstain Bears and the making of “The Big Honey Hunt”

September 28 Marks the 55th anniversary of the first Berenstain Bears book, The Big Honey Hunt published in 1962. Below is one of the first sketches of the Bears, found in the archives 5 years ago while getting ready for our 50th Anniversary.Ā  First bear

The Bear family has gone through lots of changes since 1962, but the Berenstain Bears have remained a well-known and treasured staple of children’s literature for over half a century!

Stan & Jan Berenstain were published comics well before they entertained the concept of creating children’s books. The idea evolved gradually, but their first thoughts are explained by Stan & Jan in their autobiography Down a Sunny Dirt Road published in 2002. (all additional quotes are also pulled from this text)

Down a Sunny Dirt Rd“We knew from our first noodlings that our book would be about bears – a family of bears. We knew that they would live in a tree. We don’t know how we knew, but we knew. We knew we’d have three characters: a bluff, overenthusiastic Papa Bear who wore bib overalls and a plaid shirt and was a little like Stan, a wise Mama Bear who wore a blue dress with white polka dots and a similar polka-dotted dust-cap who was very like Jan, and a bright, lively little cub who was a lot like Leo. Michael, not yet one, didn’t make the cut.”

 

Jan, Mike, Leo, and Stan in studio 1952

Jan, Mike, Leo, and Stan in their studio (1952)

 

After an awkward meeting with publishers, financial, and contractual worries, Stan & Jan eventually ended up at Random House. It was there that Ted Geisel (Dr. Seuss) was running a new division for the publisher, “Beginner Books”, modeled after his own easy-to-read children’s books. Ted became Stan & Jan’s editor and with his help they started the tumultuous journey of crafting the first Bears book.

“It also became clear as we worked with Ted (we eventually did 17 books with him) that although he accepted certain broad, general ideas about story construction – that a story needed a beginning, a middle, and an end, for example – he wasn’t an editor in any conventional sense of the term.”

After multiple re-writes, story boarding, meetings, and notes, Stan & Jan refined their concept and came up with The Big Honey Hunt.

big-honey-hunt-1st-edition

“We went home and started from scratch. Our new story told about the Bear family’s waking up to an empty honey pot one morning. Papa and Small Bear take the empty pot and set out in search of honey. A bee flies by. Papa and Small Bear ‘follow that bee to its honey tree.’ But when they get there, the bees rise up and chase Papa into a pond. On their way home Papa and Small Bear buy some honey at the honey store, which was what Mama wanted them to do in the first place.”

 

After the success of the Big Honey Hunt, the Berenstains went on to publish 17 more books with Dr. Seuss as their editor, and the series about the Bear Family became known as the “Berenstain Bears”. Stan & Jan later moved on from the “Beginner Book” format of rhyming couplets and one syllable words to the 8″x8″ format which allowed longer stories with more complicated plots. From there the Success of the series boomed and there have been over 350 Berenstain Bears stories published since, not including TV Specials, TV series, games, toys, and more! Following the death of Stan Berenstain in 2005, their younger son, Mike took a more active role from illustrating to writing theĀ  Bear books along with his mother, Jan. After Jan’s death in 2012 Mike has continued to write and illustrate the Bear books, now published through Harper Collins and Zondervan.

On our social media sites we have been going through the archives for our “Berenstain Bears 55 Countdown” , posting images from Berenstain books and sketches from each year starting at 1962 and ending at present day. Scroll through below to see selections and notice how the Bears gradually changed in appearance, as they grew from a family of three to five.

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We thank you so much for your support and appreciation of the Berenstain Bears. We especially love hearing stories of parents passing down their favorite books to their kids, and even grand-kids! There would be no anniversary to celebrate without readers like you, so… Happy Reading!

Digitizing the Berenstain Bears

Many of our younger fans are familiar with our Television Series on PBS, but did you know the Bears have been on the small screen since 1979?

Here at Berenstain Studios we recently received all of our tape reels, beta-max tapes, DVDs, and VHS tapes of our TV Specials, and TV episodes from our 1985 Television series. These had previously been housed at an outside storage facility. This meant it was time to make some room in the archives!

Our studio archives house all of the original art from the Berenstain Bear books from the beginning as well as many of Stan & Jan’s comics from before the Bears. We also keep at least 5 copies of each of our books published, and now it is home to all of the original tape reels. Here’s a look at all of the space needed just for books:

IMG_3007

Below you can see all of the tapes, DVDs, Digital Beta-max tapes, as well as all of the 1″ tape reels. You may even recognize some of the VHS tapes from your own childhood.

Studio tapes.jpg

While this may not look too exciting, we at Berenstain Studios were looking forward to seeing some of the cartoonsĀ  – some of which have not aired on TV in over 30 years!

Many of the more familiar episodes from our 1985 series can be found online, as they are easily pirated from DVDs, but there were quite a few episodes that only existed on the 1″ reels. Here at the studios we mostly deal in writing and illustrating the books, so we do not have the equipment to see what condition the reels were in, or to digitize them. This task required an outside service to take what was on the reels and make it up-loadable for all to see. For these special episodes,Ā  we ran into quite a few issues. Some were internationally formatted which required a more niche and not as universal equipment, while other reels were partially damaged, or improperly labeled.

Example Reel package and reel:

 

Through all this we are happy to say we were able to digitize each of the episodes from our 1985-87 Television Series on CBS as well as the 5 Television Specials that aired on NBC from 1979-1983. All of these are now available in full on our Youtube Channel, even what seemed to be our most elusive episode, “The Berenstain Bears and the Super Duper Bowl”!

you can watch all of the episodes on our Youtube Page, and find information on each episode and TV Special Below.Ā  To Learn more about how the Berenstain Bears were first animated, check out our previous blog post: You Can’t Animate a Plaid Shirt.

NBC TV Specials

TitleĀ  Air Date
The Berenstain Bears’ Christmas Tree 12/2/1979
The Berenstain Bears Meet Bigpaw 11/20/1980
The Berenstain Bears’ Easter Surprise 4/14/1981
The Berenstain Bears’ Comic Valentine 2/13/1982
The Berenstain Bears Play Ball 5/6/1983

 

CBS TV Series

Episode Season Ep Air Date
The Messy Room 1 1 14-Sep-85
The Terrible Termite 1 2 9/21/1985
Go Fly A Kite 1 3 9/28/1985
The Trojan Pumpkin 1 4 10/5/1985
The Spooky Old Mansion 1 5 10/12/1985
The Fly Away Pizza 1 6 10/19/1985
The Giant Bat Cave 1 7 10/26/1985
The Wild Wild Honey 1 8 11/2/1985
The Neighborly Skunk 1 9 11/9/1985
The Missing Pumpkin 1 10 11/16/1985
Too Much Birthday 1 11 11/23/1985
To The Rescue 1 12 11/30/1985
The Soccer Star 1 13 12/7/1985
Shoot the Rapids 1 14 12/14/1985
The Knight to Remember 1 15 1/18/1986
The Superduper Bowl 1 16 1/25/1986
The Not So Buried Treasure 1 17 2/1/1986
The Condemned Backscratcher 1 18 2/8/1986
Kong For a Day 1 19 2/15/1986
Blaze a Trail 1 20 2/22/1986
No Girls Allowed 1 21 5/13/1986
The Missing Dinosaur Bone 1 22 5/13/1986
The Spookiest Pumpkin 1 23 5/13/1986
The Dancing Bees 1 24 5/20/1986
Learn About Strangers 1 25 5/27/1986
The Disappearing Honey 1 26 6/3/1986
In the Dark 2 1 9/13/1986
Ring the Bell 2 2 9/20/1986
Forget Their Manners 2 3 9/27/1986
The Wicked Weasel Spell 2 4 10/4/1986
The Truth 2 5 10/11/1986
Save the Bees 2 6 10/18/1986
Get in a Fight 2 7 10/25/1986
The Bigpaw Problem 2 8 11/1/1986
Get Stage Fright 2 9 11/8/1986
Go Bonkers Over Honkers 2 10 11/15/1986
The Great Honey Pipeline 2 11 11/22/1986
The Great Grizzly Comet 2 12 11/29/1986
The Sure-Fire Bait 2 13 12/6/1986
The Cat’s Meow 2 14 12/13/1986
The Trouble with Friends 2 15 12/20/1986
The Coughing Catfish 2 16 12/27/1986
The Substitute Teacher 2 17 1/3/1987
The Mystery Mansion 2 18 1/10/1987
Bust A Ghost 2 19 1/17/1987
The Ice Monster 2 20 1/24/1987
The Crystal Ball Caper 2 21 1/31/1987
The Raid on Fort Grizzly 2 22 2/7/1987
The Forbidden Cave 2 23 2/14/1987
The Hot Air Election 2 24 2/21/1987
Life With Papa 2 25 2/28/1987
Save the Farm 2 26 3/7/1987

Mother’s & Father’s Day Reading List

Mother’s Day is right around the corner and Father’s Day is not too far behind! Celebrate Mamas and Papas with a list of some of our favorites.

We Love Our Mom

The Berenstain Bears We Love Our Mom!

 

We Love Our Dad!

The Berenstain Bears We Love Our Dad!

 

Mother's Day Blessings

The Berenstain Bears Mother’s Day Blessings

 

Perfect Fishing Spot

The Berenstain Bears and the Perfect Fishing Spot

 

Mama's Day Suprise

The Berenstain Bears and the Mama’s Day Surprise

 

Papa's Day Suprise

The Berenstain Bears and the Papa’s Day Surprise

 

Love One Another

The Berenstain Bears Love One Another

Inside the Bear Family Tree house

Have you ever wondered how a family of 5 bears fits into one little tree? While getting ready to illustrate our upcoming book,Ā  The Berenstain Bears Show & Tell we wondered the same thing! We’ll go back through the years to the Bear’s home how it first appeared, and how it has evolved to its current state in our newest book.

A bi-section of the Bear’s Tree house was first seen in 1974’s The Berenstain Bears and the New Baby. In this iteration we see a two storied house. The first floor featured mainly the kitchen andĀ  a small family den, while the second floor houses Mama & Papa’s room and a little room for Brother Bear.

New Baby

The Next full view of the house comes in 1979’s The Berenstain Bears Activity Book. In this iteration two levelsĀ  are added: a Basement, and now a third story for Brother & Sister’s rooms.

Activity Book.jpg

While getting ready to draw an updatedĀ  bi-section of the Bear’s Tree house, there were a few complications. First off the Bears’ tree house has changed a bit over the years. When illustrating the interiors of the house, the illustrator has more freedom to add space and the tree house feels more like a regular home. However, it gets tricky when fitting these rooms into a cylindrical house in the trunk and branches of a tree. The house is a lot like Mary Poppins’ Bag, much more spacious inside than it appears outside!

The Bears’ Basement

The Basement has not changed much over the years, you can still see the roots of the tree coming down from the ceiling like stalactites, and it functions like most basements do: storage, and a little dark and creepy to cubs.

Basement

The Kitchen & Living Room

Both of these rooms have definitely changed over the years. The Bear Family kitchen first appeared very rustic, with an old time-y stove and love of pots and pans hanging from hooks on the wall. The Bears’ kitchen now is much more modern, with a sink, cabinets, and refrigerator.

Bears kitchen

The Living Room has also expanded from a little TV and a bench in a den off the kitchen to an entireĀ  room with a Couch, easy chair, and room for the Bear Family to spread out.

Bears living Room

The Cubs’ Room.

In “The Messy Room” The cubs had a LOT of stuff. In subsequent books the Cub’s room has been greatly simplified and they seem to have streamlined all of the clutter while still keeping their classic bunk beds.

Cubs' Room

The Attic

Much like the basement the attic has not changed much. At one point it was changed to Honey Bear’s new room, but in books since it has switched back to an attic full of antique treasures.

Bears attic

Honey's Room

So finally we have an updated version of the Bears Tree house, ready for 2017 in our new book The Berenstain Bears Show & Tell coming out May 2, and available for pre-order now. Side view Show & Tell

Show n tell.png

 

 

 

Jan Berenstain’s War Years

jan-about-1942

Jan Berenstain in 1942

In 1943, Soon after Stan left for the ArmyĀ  Jan Berenstain (then Jan Grant) took a break from her schooling at The Philadelphia Museum School for Industrial Arts (Now UArts) to begin training to be an aircraft riveter. She describes the decision in Stan & Jan’s Autobiography, Down a Sunny Dirt Road:

“At the end of the school term, though, girls were talking about joining the WAVES or the WACCS or doing war work. I was definitely missing the the inspiration of working with a full class of talented artists, too and told Mom and Dad I was going to take a year off from school and earn some money, starting that summer.

I showed up at the U.S. Employment Office on Broad Street with some second-year work I’d done in mechanical-drawing and jewelry classes. I was sent the same day to join a class of young women forming up at Bok Vocational School in South Philadelphia to train to be aircraft riveters. After 2 weeks of on-the-job training (meaning we were paid), we joined the workforce at Brill’s Trolley car factory which had won a Navy contract to assemble center wing sections for PBY Flying Boats.”

riveting-class

Jan’s seated on the far left at the graduation celebration for her Riveting class.

consolidated_pby-5a_catalina_in_flight_c1942

The PBY Catalina Jan worked on at Brill’s served as a Maritime patrol and search-and-rescue seaplane.

Recently Mike Berenstain unearthed an Essay written by Jan after her return to school, describing more in-depth her experience working at the Brill Trolley Car Factory. It is a stream of consciousness writing that vividly portrays the day to day bustle and exhaustion brought on from the tireless work done by Jan and many women left stateside during WWII.

jan-essay-pg-1jan-essay-pg-2jan-essay-pg-3jan-essay-pg-4jan-essay-pg-5jan-essay-pg-6jan-essay-pg-7jan-essay-pg-8

Ultimate Christmas Reading List!

Its December and Christmas is just around the corner. Since it is the season of cheer we have compiled a list of every Berenstain Bear Christmas book just for you! We hope you have a Wonderful and warm Holiday Season.

night-before-christmasThe Berenstain Bears’ Night Before Christmas

old-fashioned-christmasThe Berenstain Bears’ Old Fashioned Christmas

save-christmasThe Berenstain Bears Save Christmas

get-ready-for-christmasThe Berenstain Bears Get Ready for Christmas

nutcrackerThe Berenstain Bears and the Nutcracker

trim-the-treeThe Berenstain Bears Trim the Tree

christmas-treeThe Berenstain Bears’ Christmas Tree

christmas-angelThe Berenstain Bears and the Christmas Angel

joy-of-givingThe Berenstain Bears and the Joy of Giving

very-first-christmasThe Berenstain Bears and the Very First Christmas

meet-santa-bearThe Berenstain Bears Meet Santa Bear

bears-christmasThe Bears’ Christmas

Guest Post, Myth-busters with Emily Berenstain

Hi Everyone,

My nameā€™s Emily Berenstain, Iā€™m the granddaughter of Stan and Jan Berenstain, and the daughter of Michael Berenstain. I wanted to take a minute to clear up a few things about the books and debunk some myths about our last name.

People have questioned the pronunciation of my last name since I can remember. It’s not a name you hear every day.

Many people would ask me, ā€œItā€™s BerenstEIN, like the Bears right?ā€ to which I would respond ā€œNo itā€™s actually BerenstAIN, like the Bearsā€. It was never a big deal when people got it wrong, I would just chuckle and correct them, a simple mistake. But then this last summer for some reason the factĀ thatĀ our name was spelled “Berenstain” and not “stein” got brought up again and again and people took to the internet in frenzy!

It was pretty funny at first, seeing how upset people were that they had remembered the Bear Books incorrectly. ā€œItā€™s Berenstain? Not Berenstein? My whole childhood is a lie!ā€ I remember seeing someoneā€™s comment on Facebook. Everyone started asking me about it, friends of friends, coworkers, long lost classmates from elementary school. It was getting kind of crazy! The internet presence grew and grew until it was trending on Facebook! Even a few celebrities commented on Twitter about it.

Some people would not accept the fact that they had been pronouncing the name incorrectly for so long. I even saw pictures online where people photo shopped the name to ā€œBerensteinā€, it was ridiculous! There were many different theories circulating the internet about our name, some believed we changed the spelling on purpose (why on earth would we do that?), and then a few believed in the Mandela effect. According to the Mandela effect, a parallel universe exists aside of ours where the books are indeed spelled ā€œBerensteinā€. My response to that theory is, who knows maybe there is another universe, who am I to say there isnā€™t? But in this universe, the Bears are and have always been the Berenstain Bears.

-Emily

Mother’s Day with It’s All in the Family

For Mother’s Day we are revisiting Stan & Jan’s cartoon, All in the Family that ran for decades in McCallā€˜s and Good Housekeeping. These classic cartoons illustrate the ups and downs of Motherhood. We hope you give a big bear hug of appreciation to all of the Moms in your life this Mother’s Day!

Mothers Day Blog - 2Mothers Day Blog - 4Mothers Day Blog - 5Mothers Day Blog - 6Mothers Day Blog - 3Mothers Day Blog - 7Mothers Day Blog - 1

 

Behind the Scenes: Under the Sea

Our Newest Book The Berenstain Bears Under the Sea Comes out this month on April 19th Through Harper Collins. Check out all of the prep work behind Under the sea, and some of the featured creatures!

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Before starting on a book, Mike Berenstain does some research. In Under the Sea one of the stops the Bear Family makes is to visit a coral reef, and he wants to make sure every creature is depicted accurately. After some preliminary research a sketch is created.

Page 14-15

In the Coral Reef scene there is a lot going on. The sketch is a good way to layout how the animals will interact with each other and create the composition of the page . Once the page is laid out it is time to add color!

Color.jpg

Once the final watercolor is finished, text is added digitally, and the spread is ready to print.

BB_UndertheSea_txt_des4_Page_08.jpg

Below are some of the animals featured and their real life counterparts. You can see how the animals are depicted to fit into the world of the Berenstain Bears!

Angelfish.jpg

Lionfish.jpg

Pufferfish.jpg

Clownfish.jpg

Starfish.jpg

Grouper.jpg

Sea Turtle.jpg

Parrotfish.jpg

Stingray.jpg

Octopus

Moray Eel

These are only a few of the many animals featured in Under the Sea, keep an eye out at your local bookstore for Under the sea, or pre-order online today!

 

 

The Berenstain Bears’ Thanksgiving Favorites

The weather has turned chilly and it is almost time for Thanksgiving! Check out some of the Bear Family’s favorite Thanksgiving Foods!

thanksgiving poem

Ā Mashed Potatoes:Mashed Potato words

Fruits & Vegetables:fruits n veggies words

Turkey:turkey - words

Pumpkin Pie:pumpkin pies words

And Finally, Leftovers! Here is a recipe from The Berenstain Bears Country Cookbook That is a great way to finish off extra turkey and veggies!

turkey sandwiches recipe

We hope you and you and your family have a happy Thanksgiving!

Love, Papa, Mama, Brother, Sister & Honey Bear

Back to School with the Berenstain Bears

With just a few weeks of summer left, back-to-school season is almost here! Whether your cubs are starting a new grade or attending school for the very first time, the Bear family has stories to help get them through all the troubles, triumphs, and new experiences they may face this year. Click on the images below to view them at full size!

The Berenstain Bears Go to SchoolGo to School copy

The Berenstain Bears and the Excuse Note

Excuse Note

The Berenstain Bears and the Homework Hassle

Homework Hassle

The Berenstain Bears Come Clean for School

Come Clean for School

The Berenstain Bears Sick Days Sick Days
The Berenstain Bears’ Trouble at School

Trouble at School

The Berenstain Bears’ Class Trip

Class Trip

The Berenstain Bears and the Big Spelling Bee
Big Spelling Bee
The Berenstain Bears Get Ready for School

Get Ready for School
Good luck, and happy reading!

The Berenstain Bears’ Summer Reading Guide

With the changing of the season comes summer vacation, warmer weather, and lots more time for little cubs to get reading! Here are our picks for the books most suited to the long, hot days of the next three months. Click the pictures to view them at full size!

The Bears’ Vacation

The Bears' Vacation

The Berenstain Bears and Too Much Car Trip Too Much Car Trip The Berenstain Bears’ Lemonade Stand

Lemonade Stand

TheĀ  Berenstain Bears’ Dinosaur Dig

Dinosaur Dig

The Berenstain Bears Gone Fishin’ Gone Fishin The Berenstain Bears’ Seashore Treasure Seashore Treasure The Berenstain Bears God Bless Our Country God Bless Our Country The Berenstain Bears and Too Much Vacation

Too Much Vacation

The Berenstain Bears Go to Camp Go to Camp Happy reading!

Behind the Scenes: The Berenstain Bears Hospital Friends

On April 21st, HarperCollins Children’s Books will release a special new Berenstain Bears book: The Berenstain Bears Hospital Friends. Hospital Friends represents the fulfillment of the Berenstainsā€™ long-cherished dream of adding a story about visiting the hospital to the Berenstain Bears series. All author’s royalties from the sale of this book will be donated to the Stan and Jan Berenstain Healthy Kids Foundation, which is devoted to the funding of childrenā€™s health and well-being initiatives!

In order to make Hospital Friends as accurate and informative as possible, Mike Berenstain based the book’s illustrations on sketches he made while visiting a local children’s hospital. Read his account of the process below, accompanied by a few sneak peaks of the finished book alongside the sketches that inspired it!

Being given the run of a childrenā€™s hospital to do visual research by on site sketching was crucial to makingĀ The Berenstain Bears’ Hospital FriendsĀ as medically accurate and authentic as possible. It was also very satisfying for me as an artist to be able to directly experience and record the behind-the-scenes workings of this great institution. An additional personal reward for me was the opportunity to witness my wife, Laura, in action in her professional role as anesthesiologist–something I would not, otherwise, be allowed to do–there is no normal provision for “Spouse’s Visiting Day” in the OR. Over many days, I visited and sketched several ORs, pre-op and recovery rooms, Radiology, Physical Therapy, the Emergency Department, waiting rooms, a patient unit, and an outpatient surgery center. In addition to using this experience for the general background of the book, I tried, wherever I could, to use the literal scenes, poses and situations of the patients and medical staff I sketched as the basis for the characters and scenes in the book. The only difference is that instead of people–they’re bears! Everyone at the hospital was immensely gracious and cooperative in making this possible. They all seemed genuinely pleased to have me there, constantly getting in their way, as they went about the immensely demanding and exacting work of providing care for those children who need it the most.

– Mike Berenstain

Walker

Ambulance

Ambulance Interior

Childlife Specialist w Tablet

Corridor

Doctor Bedside

MT - Drum

MT - Mandolin

PT - Treadmill
Pre-order The Berenstain Bears Hospital Friends today!

Valentine’s Day with “It’s All in the Family”

Before The Big Honey Hunt was published in 1962–marking the beginning of the Berenstain Bears series–author-illustrators Stan and Jan Berenstain worked primarily as cartoonists. One of their most beloved series was “It’s All in the Family,” which featured a family of five (plus pets!) and ran for decades in McCall‘s and Good Housekeeping, as well as being anthologized in several volumes. In honor of the upcoming holiday, we’ve revisited the Berenstain archive to share with you some of our favorite Valentine-themed “It’s All in the Family” cartoons! Continue reading

A New Year’s Resolution Book Guide

For many, the new year means new resolutions and a chance to make 2015 even better than what came before it. Here are a few books that might help your cubs achieve the goals that they and you have set for the coming year, sorted into a few helpful categories:

For a Healthier and More Active Lifestyle

Too Much JunkfoodĀ Too Much TV

Safe and Sound

For Improving Cleanliness and Organization

Messy Room

Trouble with Chores

For Learning Basic Money Management Skills

Dollars and Sense

Trouble with Money

For Gratitude and Giving Back

Count Blessings

Green Eyed Monster

Helping Hand

Happy New Year, and best of luck in all that you resolve to do in 2015!

15 Things to Celebrate This December!

In Bear Country, winter is one of our favorite times of year, and each December we get excited for all the season has to offer: evenings snuggled around the fire, steaming mugs of hot cocoa, fun outdoor activities and, of course, Christmas! Here are some of the things we’ll be celebrating this month:

  1. Snow!

    Snow

  2. Choosing the perfect Christmas tree

    Tree

  3. An excuse for silly hats

    hats

  4. Sleigh rides through the countryside

    Sleigh Ride

  5. The annual Bear Country ice sculpture contest

    output_SnoqML

  6. Gingerbread Bears
    Gingerbread

  7. Hanging festive decorations
    Decorating

  8. Sledding!
    Sledding 1Though hopefully with better luck than Papa Bear…Sledding 2-3

  9. Setting up the Nativity scene
    Nativity Scene

  10. Delicious home-cooked meals
    Food

  11. The story of The Nutcracker
    Nutcracker

  12. Listening to carolers
    Carolers

  13. Baking cookies for Santa Bear
    Cookies…if Honey doesn’t polish them off first!

  14. Ice skating on frozen ponds
    Skating

  15. And spending quality time with the whole family!
    Family

What are you most looking forward to this December? Let us know in the comments!

 

Behind the Scenes: Making Thanksgiving All Around

The Bear Family has a new Thanksgiving adventure this year in Thanksgiving’s All Around, a Lift-the-Flap book recommend for children ages 4-8. In it, Mama, Papa, Brother, Sister, and Honey stroll through lush autumn landscapes. In search of a wild turkey after stumbling upon his tracks, the Bears find many surprises along the way.

To get an insider’s look at how this book came together, check out our Q&A with author and illustrator Mike Berenstain below.

Thanksgiving All Around is a Lift-the-Flap book. Could you talk a little about the mechanics of illustrating a book in this format?

Lift-the-Flap books are very difficult to designā€”theyā€™re like putting together an elaborate puzzle. The story has to be planned around a series of hidden surprises, these hidden elements must be logically worked into each illustration and each flap that covers the surprise must be created as a separate illustration which much line up precisely with the illustration underneath.

TGiving

The book takes place, of course, in November. What sort of adjustments do you make when illustrating the Bear Country landscape in autumn?

Everything needs to take on a mellow autumn tonalityā€”the greens are a warmer, yellower hue, autumn leaves must be a variety of yellows, oranges and reds.

Turkeys

Do you make any changes to the characters to reflect the season?

The Berenstain Bears are quite cold-tolerantā€”after all, they have thick fur. So, they only wear jackets and scarves when things get very chilly.

In addition to Bears, Thanksgiving All Around features all sorts of animals, like a woodchuck, kittens, turkeys, and more. How did you decide which animals to include?

The decisions about which ones to include was based on what would work with the flap book format. For instance, the idea of making a cloud in the sky into a flap suggested having a flock of geese flying by underneath.

Clouds and Geese

What is your favorite thing about Thanksgiving?

Pumpkin pie, without a doubt!

Pie

Thanksgiving All Around was published by HarperCollins on August 26th.
You can purchase it online here.

Tree House Trivia

About Our Name

People are often curious about the spelling of ā€œBerenstain,ā€ a phenomenon thatā€™s much older than the Bears themselves. As Stan Berenstain recalled in Down a Sunny Dirty Road, the 2002 autobiography he co-wrote with wife Jan, even his fourth grade teacher had questions:

ā€œOn the very first morning, when [Miss McKinney] called the roll, she took exception to my name. She said there was no such name as Berenstain. The name, as everyone knew, was Bernsteinā€”and that was what my name would be, at least in her room. When I raised my hand and protested that Berenstain had always been my name, she silenced me with an icy stare and said she didnā€™t approve of people who changed their namesā€ (26).

no such name ā€œBerenstain,ā€ it seems, is less common than other, similar variants. But thereā€™s a simple explanation. According to family lore, the spelling results from an immigration officerā€™s attempt to record phonetically an accented version of the traditional Jewish name ā€œBernsteinā€ as pronounced by Stan Berenstainā€™s grandfather. He had come to America from Ukraine, where the name would have sounded something like ā€œBer’nsheytn.ā€ Since then, the family has always spelled it Berenstain, as it was originally documented.

On the Road &Ā Down A Sunny Dirt Road
Jack Kerouac

Jack Kerouac

When Stan and Jan Berenstain decided to look for a an agent to assist them in getting their first children’s book published, they chose Sterling Lord, who was recommended to them by a number of different editors. Lord is perhaps most famous for jump-starting the career of one of Americaā€™s most iconic trouble-making writers: Jack Kerouac. As Vanity Fairā€˜s John Heilpern wrote in a 2013 profile of Lord, ā€œWithout [this] literary agent and gentleman of the old schoolā€¦chances are we would never have heard of the mythic Kerouac.ā€ Kerouacā€™s signature, jazz-influenced styleā€”something he referred to as ā€œspontaneous bop prosodyā€ā€”represented a radical break with literary tradition, and not many agents were willing to take a chance on this young rebel. Lord did, getting On the Road published in 1957, and the rest is history. Other notable writers represented by his agency include Ken Kesey, Howard Fast, John Irving, and, of course, the Berenstains!

DIY Bride

In 1943, Jan Berenstain–then Janice Grant–took a year off from the Philadelphia Museum School of Industrial Art to contribute to the United States’ war efforts. After completing a two-week training at the Bok Vocational School in South Philadelphia, Jan began working as an aircraft riveter at Brill’s trolley car factory, which had a Navy contract to assemble center wing sections for PBY flying boats. But wing assembly wasn’t the only example of Jan’s metalworking during the war. When she and Stan married in 1946, they wore wedding rings she herself had fashioned out of airplane aluminum.

Riveting class

Jan’s riveting class celebrates graduation

Announcing the Stan and Jan Berenstain Healthy Kids Foundation

We are pleased to announce the creation of the Stan and Jan Berenstain Healthy Kids Foundation. Formed by the Berenstain family to honor Stan and Janā€™s memory, the Foundation is devoted to the funding of childrenā€™s health and well-being initiatives. Inspired by the childhood-celebrating and family-affirming message of Stan and Janā€™s creative legacy, we are seeking out those who share our goal of providing for that most basic of all childrenā€™s needs: good health.

Initially funded by a contribution from the Berenstain Family, the Foundation will receive ongoing financial support from the publication of The Berenstain Bearsā€™ Hospital Friends by Mike Berenstain, forthcoming from HarperCollins in April 2015. All authorā€™s royalties from sales of this book will be donated directly to the Foundation.

This new book is a fulfillment of the long-cherished dream of adding a story about visiting the hospital to the Berenstain Bears series, which has for decades a source for children coping with new experiences and problems. When Mike Berenstain married Dr. Laura Diazā€”pediatric anesthesiologist at The Childrenā€™s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP)ā€”they immediately began making this dream a reality. With Lauraā€™s help and CHOPā€™s sponsorship, Mike toured the hospital, interviewed staff and used sketches made in every medical department to create the bookā€™s illustration.

The first project given funding by the Stan and Jan Berenstain Healthy Kids Foundation joins a medical mission with the spirit of art. Face to Face: The Craniofacial Program Portrait Project is a collaboration between CHOP, the Studio Incamminati School for Contemporary Realist Art, and the Edwin & Fannie Grey Hall Center for Human Appearance. Artists are commissioned to create portraits of young patients with craniofacial conditions to help them gain self-esteem and social resilience.

Of added interest is the historic connection between this art/medical project and Stan Berenstainā€™s service as an Army medical illustrator during World War II. His art recording operations on war wounds was donated to the Army Museum in 2010.

The collaboration between the creative and medical worlds has been furthered by the make-up of the Foundationā€™s board, consisting of members of the Berenstain family along with outside medical directors associated with The Childrenā€™s Hospital of Philadelphia. Long term, the Foundation intends to meet the requirements to qualify as public foundation, maximizing its potential for growth and increased funding.

We hope that you will join us in supporting this exciting new undertaking growing out of the life stories and lifeā€™s work of Stan and Jan Berenstain.

For more information, to contribute to the Foundation, or to explore other ways to partner with the Foundation in its work, please visit our website or contact us at: general@berenstainfoundation.org.

Mike BerenstainĀ Ā  Ā Ā Ā 

What’s It Like to Play a Berenstain Bear?

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Maura McColgan (pictured left with fellow castmate Joey Anchondo), an actress and rising senior at West Chester University, is a member of theĀ Greater Ocean City Theatre Company for the 2014 Season. She recently played Sister Bear in the OCTC production of The Berenstain Bears on Stage.

 

What was your immediate thought upon finding that out you had been cast as Sister Bear?

I was so excited. I thought that Sister Bear would be a perfect role for me to play! She’s sassy, smart, and a very developed character. I had no problem getting myself into character because I was a lot like Sister Bear when I was a child.

 

How is playing an animal on stageā€”even a singing and dancing oneā€”different than playing a human?

Playing an animal was probably the biggest struggle of the whole experience. To be honest, I kind of forgot that she wasn’t human because she is so personified! I did however try to add animalistic qualities to Sister Bear, like having her sniff the toy box that Papa Bear makes for her and Brother Bear in The Berenstain Bears and the Messy Room [laughs].Ā  I also growled when she was angry. Yes, playing a bear who is so much human was a little bit of a challenge! [Ed. Note: “They’re kind of furry around the torso / They’re a lot like people, only more so”]

 

How did acting in The Berenstain Bears on Stage compare to some of your past theater experiences?

Acting in The Berenstain Bears was very different from anything I have ever done before. We had only five rehearsals, all in one week! And then we performed four shows! Two in Ocean City, one at Stockton College, and one at the Cape May Convention Center. It was extremely fast paced but it was an amazing learning experience. It gave me confidence that I can learn things very quickly and perform successfully after only a few rehearsals. Specific to The Berenstain Bears, it was also my first time playing an animal! Even if the Berenstain Bears are very much human and go through human conflict to teach lessons. All the stories are very relatable.

 

The Berenstain Bears on Stage is based on five different Berenstain Bears stories: The Berenstain Bears’ New Baby, The Berenstain Bears and the Messy Room, The Berenstain Bears and the Double Dare, The Berenstain Bears Tell the Truth and The Berenstain Bears Get Stage Fright. Which one of these was your favorite and why?

My favorite story to perform… that is a hard one. If I could pick one, it would be The Berenstain Bears and the Messy Room. One of the songs in this scene is actually a rap where Brother Bear and Sister Bear rap about their messy room and what toys they have. That was pretty fun for us because it seemed so random to have a rap in a musical, but the composer sure had a sense of humor! It somehow worked and was genius. Probably the most epic part of the scene though involved a closet that Brother Bear (Joey Anchondo) and I had to strategically place all of the toys into so that when Mama Bear (Chrissy Hartzell) opened the door of the closet, a lever was pulled so the toys would all fall on top of her. It caused the audience to laugh hysterically every single time! It was a lot fun.

 

Anything else youā€™d like to add?

I want to thank the Greater Ocean City Theatre Company for giving me my very first professional theatre experience this summer! It was extremely rewarding to see all of the little kids at the end of all our shows give us hugs and high fives. A few of the kids told me I was their favorite in the play, which, to be honest, means more to me than being told that my acting and singing was great for one reason: for that amount of time that I was on stage, I WAS Sister Bear to them. I was able to take them out of the real world and even after the play was over, I was still Sister Bear to them. When you are able to make a child that happy and feel that special to meet you because you inspired them, taught them a lesson, or look up to you, you did your job. I always believe that I do what I do for others, and children’s theatre is the most direct way that any actor can make a difference, in my opinion.