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 Berenstains’ 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 children’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 children’s hospital to do visual research by on site sketching was crucial to making The Berenstain Bears’ Hospital Friends 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