The Berenstains’ A Book – Amazing!

From the art files, it is apparent Stan and Jan began work on the Berenstains’ A Book in about 1972.   This title was to be part of the Beginner Book series, of which Ted Geisel (aka Dr. Seuss) was the editor.  No matter how they sketched the book for Ted, it seems they just couldn’t satisfy him.  There are at least seven different versions of the story in the files.

The first, dated February 10, 1972, shows Small Bear interacting with a variety of “A” words.

Asleep

An ankle — An anthill

Asleep with an ankle on an anthill

Until the final sketch, showing the moral to the story:

– you should never fall asleep with an ankle on an anthill.

Following Ted’s rejection, the next version was dated March 17, 1972.  It begins with the following page:

A is for Ant

And ends with the rescue of Albert Ant who is caught in a spider web:

A is for Albert Ant – Albert Ant is why ants advanced across an apple, an acorn, an apricot, an ax, an angle worm, an alligator, an airplane, an avenue, apes’ apartments and Arizona!

The next version, dated April 13, 1972, begins with these pages:

A Book – April 13, 1972

Big A – Abner
Small a – apples

It contains all sorts of “A” words, as the previous versions do.  This version, however, has no story line, but is rather a collection of simple sentences all containing “A” words and shows the differences between upper and lower case “A.”

The next version, dated August 18, 1972, is titled “Aunt Ada’s Adventure: An A Book” which takes Aunt Ada on adventures all the way to Atlantic City and back again.

Aunt Ada’s Adventure: An A Book

Following this are several undated versions, all completely different:

The A Book
So long Pop! I’m going out to play! What? You didn’t have your lesson yet today.

We will start with some A words. I have many for you. A is for Apple. Applesauce too.

This version begins to resemble the final version of the Berenstains’ A Book:

Ant

and finally this version is the sketch version of the story as it was finally published:

Ant

Ironically, the Berenstains’ A Book was never published while Ted Geisel was at the helm of the Beginner Books series.  It wasn’t until 1997, twenty-five years after the first sketches for this book, that it was finally published by Random House as part of its Bright and Early Books series.  Amazing!

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