Even though our little girl won't need them for a while, we recently put up some wall bookshelves in the nursery. It was no struggle to fill them -- between the two of us, Paul and I have a vast collection of Berenstain Bear books from our own childhoods. And it looks like a lot of you guys once had pretty good collections going as well -- there were a lot of requests to check out the Berenstain Bear series! Here are a few facts about the Bear clan.
1. The first Berenstain Bear book was published in 1962 and was called The Big Honey Hunt. It was published by Dr. Seuss' own imprint, Beginner Books. More than 260 million copies have been sold since then (that's for the whole series, of course, not just The Big Honey Hunt).
2. Well, I thought we had a pretty good collection, but there are more than 250 books under the Berenstain Bear banner. We don't even have a third of them!
3. It was just Mama, Papa, Brother and Sister for almost 25 years (Sister was born in the 1974 book The Berenstain Bears' New Baby; Brother has been around from the beginning). But in January 2000, it was announced Mama was pregnant again in the book The Birds and the Bees and the Berenstain Bears; a contest was held to name the latest little Berenstain. When the votes were tallied, the winner was clear "“ Honey Berenstain made her debut in The Berenstain Bears and Baby Makes Five in August 2000.
4. Jan and Stan Berenstain met on their first day of class at the Philadelphia Museum School of Industrial Arts (UArts) and were married five years later.
5. It may not surprise you too much to know that Mama and Papa are loosely modeled after their creators, Jan and Stan Berenstain. "I'm not quite as dumb as [Papa] seems to be sometimes, and Jan is not quite as wise and patient as Mama, but she is Mama," Stan Berenstain once said.
6. Stan Berenstain's art career took a completely different turn from where it was when he was in the army. During WWII, he spent his days doing detail drawings of plastic surgery procedures for facial wounds. Although perhaps his training came in handy for The Berenstain Bears Go to the Doctor. No?
7. If you're like me, you're a little wary of the recent Hollywood trend of taking beloved childhood memories and turning them into big-budget movies. The Smurfs? Monopoly? Really? I just don't know about that, and I don't know about a CGI-Live Action version of the Bears, either. But it's on the books to be directed by Shawn Levy, who directed the Night at the Museum movies. We can expect to see the Berenstains maneuvering through our modern world in late 2011/early 2012. Levy knows he's messing with a classic and doesn't plan on any radical changes. "It's warm-hearted comedy about family, and a different kind of family. I think the movie will be witty but never sarcastic," he says. Color me skeptical.
8. The 2011 movie won't be the Bears' first foray into the entertainment industry, though. They've had two television series over the years "“ Michael Cera voiced Brother Bear in the 2003 version - and a series of holiday specials that were aired on NBC in the "˜70s and "˜80s. Here's a little clip of The Berenstain Bears and the Messy Room, which happened to be one of my favorite books:
9. Just like in yesterday's Mr. Men series and the Amelia Bedelia post the day before, the family writing tradition has been carried on by the authors' kin. In this case, it's Michael Berenstain. He's been writing about things from trolls to wizards for more than 30 years and started partnering with his mom on Bear books since Stan passed away in 2005. Sometimes you can tell which books Michael has worked on "“ as a author who was primarily focused in the Christian genre before, his Berenstain Bears titles include The Berenstain Bears Show God's Love, The Berenstain Bears Say Their Prayers and The Berenstain Bears Go to Sunday School.
10. Unlike the Ramona books, recent additions to the Berenstain collection have included modern updates like cell phones and video games.
What was your favorite Bears book? I loved Too Much Junk Food, Too Much Birthday, Forget Their Manners, Get Stage Fright and Get the Gimmies. Geez. There's an awful lot of morals in there "“ no wonder my parents didn't mind buying Berenstain Bear books for me! Also, check out Jason's quiz from last year: