By Bianca Schulze, The Children’s Book Review
Published: February 28, 2012
The Berenstain Bears lose a friend and so does the world of children’s literature.
Jan Berenstain (July 26, 1923 – February 24, 2012) co-created over 300 of the beloved “Berenstain Bears” books with her husband Stan Berenstain (September 29, 1923 – November 26, 2005), shedding light on social graces and creating life-long readers and Bear Country devotees.
Kate Klimo, Vice President, Publisher at Random House/Golden Books Young Readers Group (Centauriad: Daughter of the Centaurs, 2012, etc.):
“Here at Random House, we are all deeply saddened to share with you the news that Jan Berenstain, surviving member of one of the greatest teams in all children’s literature—Stan and Jan Berenstain—passed away last Friday. Together with her husband Stan, she was the creator of the hugely popular Berenstain Bears whose fiftieth anniversary—and over sixty books—Random House Children’s Books celebrates this year. Jan’s gentleness and dry humor were a wonderful foil to Stan’s more gregarious nature. Whenever they were asked who was responsible for what in their team effort, Stan said that he blocked out the stories, Jan designed the new characters, and everything else they shared. They were collaborators in the purest sense of the word. Jan once said that there wasn’t a single day of her life that she didn’t look forward to setting foot in the studio they shared in their lovely home in Pennsylvania’s beautiful Bucks County. After Stan’s death, in 2005, Jan went on working with her younger son, Michael, to continue to create more Berenstain Bears books. Our hearts go out to Michael, his brother Leo and their families at this time. It’s hard to imagine a world without Mama Bear, who solves all problems and makes everything better.”
David Linker, Executive Editor, HarperCollins:
“She had a tremendous dedication to her craft, a great love of children’s literature, and was that rare talent who managed to delight generation after generation of children, for more than 50 years. She leaves behind a legacy of more than 300 books, millions of fans, and a wonderful Bear family that so many of us have grown to love. It’s been my great privilege to work with her these past few years. Her warmth and talents will be missed.”
Shana Corey, Executive Editor at Random House Children’s Books (Here Come the Girl Scouts, 2012, etc.):
“I don’t think I’ve ever been more thrilled/awestruck in my career at Random House Childrens Books (and I’ve had plenty of awestruck moments), than I was the day that I got to go along to a lunch meeting at Stan and Jan Berenstain’s home in Pennsylvania. Jan was so generous and warm and kind to me (I was only an editorial assistant and just along for the ride so she completely didn’t have to be). She gave me a signed Berenstain Bears Go to School because I mentioned that as a kid I’d been fascinated by the clay donut illustration in the copy my mom had given me before I started Kindergarten. And now I read that signed copy to my own children.”
Liz Rhynerson O’Brien, Educational Marketing Manager at Random House Children’s Books (2001-2005):
“I met Stan and Jan at a Random House dinner in Philadelphia. I was a teacher prior to entering the publishing world and loved and used their books in my classroom. I was very excited to meet them—star-struck even—and I was enchanted by their friendly, down to earth nature and their funny, entertaining stories. So engrossed was I, that I stayed and listened much later than I was supposed to—my then boyfriend, who was going to med-school in Philly had prepared this amazing meal for me, and I got there over two hours late! He forgave me, as he is now my husband. We have two kids and one on the way and The Berenstain Bears books are very well loved and read often in our house.”
Carol H. Rasco, President and Chief Executive Officer at Reading is Fundamental:
Many of us have been mourning the loss of Jan Berenstain, co-creator of the beloved Berenstain Bears series who passed away last Friday, Feb. 24, 2012.
Jan and Stan, her co-creator and husband, left us a legacy of more than 340 books that filled children and parents with wonder.
I fondly remember the hours spent reading the series with my own children. From shaping their understanding of scary new things – like the arrival of a little sister, going to school or visiting the dentist – the Berenstain Bears were always there for harried parents to turn to, much to our children’s delight.
In tribute to Jan, her family is directing memorial gifts to Reading Is Fundamental. We are honored that in homage of her life and legacy, the Berenstain family is turning to RIF to give kids something they know Jan loved – books.
Every child deserves to be filled with wonder at the thought of that big treehouse down a sunny dirt road where a lovable bear family calls home.
We are forever grateful.
TCBR’s “Berenstain Bears” favorites: