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Stan Berenstain, Jan Berenstain - Children's Authors
Stan and Jan Berenstain started drawing together when they met in Miss Sweeny’s drawing class on the first day of art school at Philadelphia Museum School of Industrial Art (now called The University of the Arts) in 1941.
They both lived in West Philadelphia but on different sides of the line that dictated school assignments, or they might have met much earlier. Both Stan and Jan enjoyed school. They liked to read. They like sports, but, most of all, they loved to draw.
When they met on the first day of art school, it was their drawings of classical plaster casts that attracted their interest in each other. A warm friendship developed from their first meeting.
They spent after-school time together at art museums and Philadelphia Orchestra concerts where they sat in the “peanut gallery” – where most young people sat. They also attended Hedgerow Theater whose repertory consisted of the plays of George Bernard Shaw and William Shakespeare.
Their even closer friendship was interrupted by World War II when Stan went into the Army. He was sent to engineering school at the University of Maine, served in the field artillery, and was chosen during a hospital stay to be medical artist at an Army plastic surgery center in Indiana.
While Stan was in the Army, Jan served on the civilian front doing engineering drawing for military contractors and as a riveter in an aircraft factory.
Stan had become interested in cartooning and sold some cartoons to the Saturday Review of Literature during his last weeks in the Army. Jan also enjoyed doing cartoons and, after they married, joined Stan in submitting cartoons to magazines. It took them about a year of weekly submissions before they broke into the “big time”. But they soon became major contributors to such popular magazines as The Saturday Evening Post and Collier’s and shortly thereafter became cover artists for Collier’s.
Their entry into the book business was prompted by a letter from an editor at a New York publishing house who enjoyed their magazine cartoons. He asked if they would like to do a book.
Having just become parents of a baby boy named Leo, they decided to do a book about raising a baby. It was illustrated with their cartoons. It was called Berenstains’ Baby Book. It proved successful and led to a number of books of family humor.
Raising two sons – Michael had joined Leo – who liked books, especially books by Dr. Seuss, Stan and Jan submitted a children’s book to Dr. Seuss who had become the editor of Beginner Books, a Division of Random House.
They introduced the Bear family “who lived down a sunny dirt road deep in Bear Country” in their first children’s book. It was called The Big Honey Hunt and was published in 1962. They did a number of easy-to-read books under Dr. Seuss’s editorship. They started their own line of books about everyday family experiences in 1974. The Berenstain Bears New Baby proved successful and led to a series of such books which are still being created. They have dealt with dozens of subjects in their family series. Just when the Berenstains think they’ve run out of subjects about the challenges of everyday family life, they think of five or six more.
The Berenstains continue to do easy-to-read books as well because they believe that encouraging children to read is one of the most important things you can do for them.
Younger son, Mike, who had become a successful writer/illustrator of children’s books on his own, joined his parents in Berenstain Bear Country many years ago and has not only worked on dozens of Berenstain Bears books, he is also the exclusive designer and illustrator of a series of large picture books, the first of which was The Berenstain Bears Save Christmas. The Berenstain Bears TV show on PBS runs throughout the US and in many other countries. Stan and Jan were always interested in theater, especially the musical theater. Their Children’s musical The Berenstain Bears On Stage opened at the Rose Theater in Omaha and will tour theaters throughout the country. The Berenstain Bears are also featured in many children's museum exhibits. Stan passed away in November, 2005 at the age of 82. Jan & Mike continue to write and illustrate Berenstain Bears books in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, a beautiful region that looks for all the world like Berenstain Bear Country.
Featured Books, with extracts by Stan Berenstain, Jan Berenstain
Stan Berenstain, Jan Berenstain
One of our 'Must Reads'. Lively pictures, charming characters and the fact that the story only uses 24 words, but to beautiful effect, make this a brilliant book for beginner readers. The bears are running through the woods in the...
Featured in: 3+ readers | Bookshelf Essentials | eBooks
Format: Paperback - Released: 08/08/1991
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