The Berenstain Bears are the creation of Stan and Jan Berenstain
and are the stars of a huge collection of children's books
.com mentions two more books coming out in July
; right now there are 613 hits when one does a search on there.) Not having been to a children's section in a bookstore
in a while, I don't know if they're still as popular as they were when I was a tyke
learning to read (think mid-1980s), but at that time the local public library
had almost every Berenstain Bears title. (And I probably read them all at one time or another before discovering Encyclopedia Brown
The basic concept:
There's a family of bears. They live in what looks like a tree with a door and windows in Bear Country. Aside from the fact that they're, well, bears that live in a tree, the Berenstein Bears aren't terribly distinguishable from humans - they walk on two feet, wear clothes, go to work or school, and, as just about every story involves, get into moral dilemmas.
Papa Bear - head of the household, carpenter, "often wrong but never in doubt"
Mama Bear - the wisest of the bears, president of the Bear Country Garden Club, and a champion quiltmaker
Brother Bear - the older child, big soccer (or football, as some would have it) fan, tends to get in a moderate amount of trouble
Sister Bear - the one always dressed in pink, the youngest, big into jumping rope and "Bearbie," also gets in a fair amount of trouble.
Now and then a few other recurring characters (like Cousin Fred) show up, but those are the basics. The basic plot is usually thus: one or more of the Bear family does something that isn't up to Mamma's standards (like keeping a messy room
or hanging out with only the in-crowd
). After some initial resistance to correcting such behavior
, the involved individual(s) see reason.
While I'm sure that going back, titles like "The Mad, Mad, Mad Toy Craze" and "Too Much Junkfood" might not seem as thrilling and/or funny as they once did (and probably more than a little priggish), it strikes me that much like the Curious George books, the Berenstain Bears books usually do a nice job of explaining the wherefores of appropriate social and moral behavior without resorting to religion.
The Bears' official homepage (used here for memory refreshment) is at http://www.berenstainbears.com/.