Behind the Scenes under the Sea

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.

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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!

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

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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!

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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!

 

 

Thanksgiving All Around copy

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 design—they’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 tonality—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-tolerant—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.

Memories of Stan and Jan

By Mike Berenstain

Stan and Jan in studio, late 1950s

Stan and Jan in their studio, late 1950s

     My parents used to watch the Sid Caesar show in their bedroom. This had started off as their studio, but when I came along, they needed another bedroom and so built a newer, bigger studio onto the house and converted their first studio into a bedroom. It was a bedroom with an enormous skylight in the roof. It also opened directly into the living room, separated from it by a large sliding door. The house was very modern, a very Fifties-Frank-Lloyd-Wrightish one-level, concrete slab house.

     My father used to sit down at the foot of the bed in front of the enormous console Motorola combined radio, hi-fi, television set and howl with laughter as he watched Sid Caesar, Imogene Coca, Howie Morris and Carl Reiner cavort across the screen. He’d howl then rock back and forth in paroxysms of laughter, gradually losing his voice as he ran out of breath. My mother sat back on the bed and laughed more conventionally. All this noisy hilarity often woke me and my brother, Leo, up. We would come wandering out of our bedroom trailing stuffed snoozer dogs, down the hall to the living room and into their studio bedroom, blearily complaining of the noise and point out that sleep was elusive under such conditions. The problem was always solved by an invitation to sit down at the end of the bed and enjoy the show.

     I didn’t really understand the humor of Your Show of Shows, besides, I was very sleepy. But I enjoyed it none-the-less. Mr. Caesar made some very funny faces and Miss Coca was somehow raucous, suggestive and sweet all at once. I particularly enjoyed Sid’s German Professor with his garbled made-up Teutonic gibberish.

     When it was over, I was duly tucked back into bed with snoozer dog to drift into dreams of Caesarish mirth. The house I remember in vivid detail. I think I could describe every square inch and not just the house, but the yard as well – every bush and flower and tree – and much of the neighborhood beyond.

     There is an excruciating immediacy about my memories of childhood which I find difficult to account for or to deal with. It’s as if my childhood was following close behind so that when I stop short or turn around, it bangs into me. It’s right there, always.

www.berenstainbears.com

Back Then … by Jan Berenstain

The following is the Introduction to Child’s Play, the Berenstain Baby Boom, 1946-1964, Cartoon Art of Stan and Jan Berenstain, by Mike Berenstain, published by Abrams, Inc., 2008.

Jan at about age 8

Jan at about age 8

When asked “What is art?” in the 1970s, cultural theorist Marshall McLuhan replied, “Art is whatever you can get away with.”  In Stan’s and my day, it wasn’t.  Talented art students in the Philadelphia area schools in the 1930s were singled out by discerning art teachers, mentored, and sent on for advanced instruction by accomplished artists at the city’s distinguished art schools.  Meeting for the first time at the Philadelphia Museum School of Industrial Art (now the University of the Arts), we both were surprised and bemused that we would meet at all.  We came from different high schools – city and suburban.  Our backgrounds were different – Jewish and Protestant.  But we thought of ourselves as, simply, American and, primarily, as artists.

Comparing notes further, there was something more significant we had in common – our American childhoods. Stan and his sister and I and my brothers had the same toys, played the same games and sports, had the same lessons in school, had similar hobbies, read many of the same books, knew a lot of the same music, listened to the same radio programs and often went to the same movies and museums. 

Stan about 4 on his trike in front his father's Army-Navy store about 1927

Stan about 4 on his trike in front his father’s Army-Navy store about 1927

Making model airplanes from strips of balsa wood and tissue paper was a hobby of Stan’s.  He also recalled sending in box tops to get a Buck Rogers Rocket Gun, which, it turned out, was made of paper.  Among his other childhood recollections were stamping tin cans onto his shoes to make a racket while walking down the sidewalk, making a rubber band gun out of strips of inner tube, and sneaking into the back of the horse-drawn ice truck to snitch strips of ice during the long, hot Philadelphia summers. 

One of my chief hobbies was making clothes for my two dolls.  One doll was an infant with a china head.  If I dropped it while playing and it broke, being that it was during the Depression, it didn’t get a new one until Christmas.  My other doll was a “Mama” doll with enameled arms, legs, face, and head with curled (horse) hair, and a stuffed cloth body with a voice box that said, “Mama!” when bent over.  I had crayons and watercolors to draw and paint with, as did Stan, and colored modeling clay that after much modeling of various animals became blended into one color – a grayish brown.

Since my father was an expert carpenter, he was able to build elaborate playthings for us – things we wouldn’t otherwise have had in the hard times of the early 1930s.  There was a hand-painted oversize Monopoly board (the reverse side was a checker board) and an elaborate pinball game made out of nothing more expensive than plywood and nails.

When, after World War II, Stan and I married and became a cartooning team, we drew on our childhood memories of these toys and games, and of Depression-era back-alley play to create our first cartoons about child’s play.  When we became parents ourselves, we passed most of our childhood enthusiasms on to our two sons, augmented by many of the new books, toys, and games that appeared in the 1950s.  Renditions of these all found their way into our early art and cartoon work for books and magazines, renditions of toddlers Leo and Mike along with them.

This was long before we began to think about creating a family of bears as the subject of a series of children’s books.  Back then, our people characters were mainstays of the thriving family magazines that, along with movies and radio, were the principal promulgations of popular culture.  Magazines like The Saturday Evening Post and Collier’s had a combined weekly circulation of more than ten million and a readership of perhaps fifty million.  Along with such monthly magazines as Ladies’ Home Journal, Woman’s Home Companion, Good Housekeeping, and McCall’s, family magazine readership was huge. 

At the time, the Berenstain contribution to this pre-television world of mass communications was viewed as a contemporary chronicle of the universal experience of American childhood.  Today, it can perhaps be best viewed as an opportunity for a nostalgic journey back to the post-war world of Leo and Mike and their fellow Baby Boomers.

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Child’s Play, the Berenstain Baby Boom, 1946-1964, Cartoon Art of Stan and Jan Berenstain, by Mike Berenstain, published by Abrams, Inc., 2008

www.berenstainbears.com

Who is Bigpaw?

Great Bear1A reader recently asked if Great Natural Bear and Bigpaw were one and the same.  Mike Berenstain provided the following answer:

They didn’t start off being the same, but they became the same.

Great Natural Bear was introduced as a minor character in the Bears’ Almanac in 1973 to show a bear hibernating and doing other “natural” bear behaviors.

Big PawBigpaw was introduced later as the main character in the Thanksgiving TV special, The Berenstain Bears Meet Bigpaw, and he began to appear in other books, especially the chapter books, as an ongoing character. Bigpaw looked and acted just like Great Natural Bear. Though it was never actually stated, it was assumed that Great Natural Bear was the same character as Bigpaw but with a different name. Great Natural Bear can be viewed as a “precursor” to Bigpaw.

http://www.berenstainbears.com

The Berenstain Bears’ Storybook Bible

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 … 

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Mike Berenstain was interviewed about the Storybook Bible by Care Baldwin from CHRI Family Radio.  You can listen to the interview here.

Storybook Bible

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.

http://www.berenstainbears.com