Jan Berenstain in 1942
In 1943, Soon after Stan left for the Army 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.”
Jan’s seated on the far left at the graduation celebration for her Riveting class.
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.
My name’s Emily Berenstain, I’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, “It’s BerenstEIN, like the Bears right?” to which I would respond “No it’s actually BerenstAIN, like the Bears”. 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 fact that 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. “It’s Berenstain? Not Berenstein? My whole childhood is a lie!” I remember seeing someone’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 “Berenstein”, 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 “Berenstein”. My response to that theory is, who knows maybe there is another universe, who am I to say there isn’t? But in this universe, the Bears are and have always been the Berenstain Bears.
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!
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.
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!
Once the final watercolor is finished, text is added digitally, and the spread is ready to print.
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!
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!
Sister Bear LOVES Valentines Day! The flowers, the cards, the decorations! Here are a few of Sister Bear’s favorite Valentines Stories to warm your heart this cold winter!
Valentine Love Bug
New Girl In Town