Jan Berenstain, half of the team behind wildly popular lesson-teaching children's book series The Berenstain Bears, has died. Finding difficult in coping with the news, the nation blindly pawed for its dog-eared, crayon scribbled copy of The Berenstain Bears Lose a Friend for guidance.
On Thursday, Jan Berenstain suffered a stroke from which she didn't wake up. Jan was preceded in death by her husband Stan, who died in 2005 at age 82.
According to the Associated Press, Jan and her husband and eventual collaborator Stan met on their first day of art school in 1941. With the aid of one Theodor Geisel (AKA Dr. Seuss), the two published their first Berenstain Bears book in 1962. Since then, more than 260 million books chronicling the 300 or so adventures of Mama, Papa, Sister, Brother, and, in later years, Honey Bear have been printed in 23 languages. Stan and Jan stopped creating books together after Stan's death in 2005, which explains the recent shift in subject matter from such topics as The Berenstain Bears and the Trouble with Commercials to the new, more religious themes like The Berenstain Bears Say Their Prayers.
On a personal note, I still feel the lingering effects of kindly moral lessons from the Bear family. The Berenstain Bears and Too Junk Food comes to mind whenever my sweet tooth leads me directly to the wall of candy in the grocery store. The Berenstain Bears Get Stage Fright taught me that it's both totally normal and totally unnecessary to feel sick with nerves before elementary school plays. And every time an out of town excursion doesn't go as planned, I remind myself that at least I didn't go on the Bears' vacation to that horrible cabin on a muddy lake full of gloopy, gloppy fish. In fact, The Berenstain Bears probably had more effect on my morality than 11 years of CCD. (Sorry, God.)
Stan and Jan Berenstain's contributions to the childhood of millions was inimitable. Here's hoping that wherever they are, it's in a big tree house down a sunny dirt road.