Everything You Could Want to Know About the Berenstain Bears
I'm not an expert on Berenstain Bears but my friend is a superfan. I've absorbed info thru osmosis, late night convos w/him & wikipedia searches verifying his oddball factoids. Here's what I know.
- •Stanley and Jan created the Berenstain Bears because they wanted to write children books for their son.They were already well established illustrators at the time they created their first book.
- •They were mentored by Dr. Seuss himself.Theodor Geisel (Dr. Seuss) was the editor at Random House when they submitted their first manuscript. He saw promise but had a lot of advice. It took them 2 years to rework the book to get it to publication.
- •It was NOT originally meant to be a series!They picked Bears because they thought bears were easy to draw! Their next book was going to feature a family of penguins.
- •But the 1st book sold so well that Dr. Seuss told them to make a new one.
- •It was not originally labeled as "Berenstain Bears". That was added later.Once a series was established and the books started selling, Dr. Seuss actually added that to the book covers for branding and consistency.
- •Dr. Seuss was their editor and also changed the author name from Stanley and Jan Berenstain to just Stan and Jan Berenstain.He didn't bother to consult with them either. He just changed it.
- •Brother bear was actually called Small Bear but then they expanded the family.Since this was never meant to be a series, they just had 3 Bears, Mama, Papa and Small bear. But once the started cranking out the series they needed more characters. Thus the introduction of Sister Bear (and the name change from Small Bear to Brother Bear) and and another baby bear called Honey (totally the Rudy Huxtable of the clan), as well other rotating characters like cousins Freddy.
- •The Berenstain Bears are pro-vaccine!They were once licensed as "spokes-bears" by a vaccine company to help promote children vaccines. This is why you always found Berenstain Bears books and stuffed animals in pediatric offices in the 80s. The vaccine company would send them to the doctors as promo swag.
- •They've been turned into a couple of TV shows and even a musical.Fun fact; the most recent TV animation version of them features a pre-Arrested Development Michael Cera voicing Brother Bear!
- •They aren't Jew-BearsStan was Jewish, but Jan was Christian. They intentional kept the Bears non-religious. Though there were a number of Christmas Berenstain Bears themed books, they said Christmas celebrated enough here in the US that they could talk about it without getting too religious.
- •However once Stan died, Jan took the bears in a Christian direction.She continued the series with her son Mike, and all of sudden the Bears started going to Sunday school and doing Easter. This is a relatively new phenomenon. Stan died 10 years ago? Jan passed away a few years ago. Mike still continues to do Berenstain Bears books I think. The newer books are actually published under a Christian book imprint.
- •There is an oddball conspiracy theory that the Berenstain Bears were the Berenstein Bears spelled with an "e" not an "a". This never happened in our timeline.