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 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

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!

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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.