Famous Bears: The Berenstain Bears

Famous Bears: The Berenstain Bears December 14, 2023

Papa Bear, Mama Bear, Brother Bear and Sister Bear. These simplistic names became synonymous with children’s literature back in the 1960’s when Stanley and Janice Berenstain wrote their first book featuring three bears. Bears were easy to draw and since they were both artists wanting to get into the children’s book market, they figured they’d start with a bear family and see where it took them. Dr. Seuss who at the time was working for a publishing company when their first book crossed his desk coined the name The Berenstain Bears and a new book series was born. Instead of being billed as Stanley and Janice, he changed that up too, giving them the shared moniker of Stan and Jan Berenstain. It’s catchy, it’s cute and it’s something that everyone came to know. After their first book took off they wrote more and more until they had over 300 titles to their credit. All featured the bears and all have a moral or safety lesson attached.

The series of books have been criticized for being too formulaic, but kids love them and have done for generations. Each story starts with bumbling Papa Bear messing up in the advice department or giving more fear than necessary to his cubs. It is always Mama Bear who is the voice of reason, the one who makes everything alright and the one who saves the day. Likewise, it is always the cubs (and ultimately Papa Bear) that learn the lesson of the day.

The Berenstain Bears live in a tree house down a sunny dirt road. They are grizzly bears, and they wear clothes although they don’t own shoes and of course they can talk. The kids go to school, they have friends and Papa works while Mama stays home taking care of the house and cubs. The series has also been criticized for adhering to old gender roles and not keeping up with the times, but they are cartoon bears, and their target audience loves them. They became so popular that they have spawned not one but two television series so their stories can come to life in each episode.

It just goes to show that you don’t have to be popular with everyone, but as long as you are keeping your niche market happy you are doing a great job. Whether you need a custom plush for a book accompaniment, or for marketing, just a little bit of imagination can go a long way.