Stan Berenstain, RIP

The co-creator of the 300-million-copy-selling Berenstain Bears has gone up to that Bear Country in the sky. I was going to note that I find something annoying about the crunchy, pleasure-hating, vaguely Quakerish/hippie-ish vibe of the Berenstain adventures, which always seem to include some kind of bluenosed piety about not overindulging in sweets or taking the commercialism out of Xmas. But I realized that whatever unintentional comedy such a rant would yield could not match Charles Krauthammer's anti-Bear brief, which blamed Papa Bear for the plague of Momism that was sweeping the nation back in the dark days of First Lady Barbara Bush:

"I hate the Berenstain Bears," Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer fumed in 1989. "The raging offense of the Berenstains is the post-feminist Papa Bear, the Alan Alda of grizzlies, a wimp so passive and fumbling he makes Dagwood Bumstead look like Batman."

And here's another tirade against political correctness in Berenstain Country. So I'll just say that even though my kid never feels like watching the Berenstain TV show and is not a big fan of the books, The Berenstain's B Book was a winner in our house. Now let's hope the various PBS Kids/Sprout channels might reconsider their decision to cancel Jakers! The Adventures of Piggley Winks—a move that clearly shows public television's anti-Irish bias (the last acceptable prejudice).

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • ||

    Something mildly amusing about the CabbageHammer ranting, Dr. Strangelove-like, about the Berenstain Bears stealing our manly essence. I can't figure that guy out. Obviously smart but weird in the head. (I guess the cliche about mental health professionals being the craziest of all applies?)

    I always found the bears a bit on the killjoy side too. I was more a Cookie Monster fan myself.

  • ||

    I used to love the Bears as a kid. The Spooky Old Tree was my favorite. As for any "indoctrination", well, I loved the Bears and I'm still in this forum.

  • Bradley||

    Their spelunking trip into that tree was awesome. I'm convinced that book birthed a generation of urban explorers.

  • ||

    cookie montser and oscar, gluttony and anger; the public tv lords of sin.

  • ||

    I could never figure out why the bears looked more like dogs. At least to me. Maybe to rob me of my manhood?

  • ||

    Yet another example of how our society, flush with success and a higher standard of living, can use the resultant extra leisure time to do more BITCHING about things. God almighty--it's a children's story. Did ALL these anti-Berenstain people have nothing better to do than look for possible non-"progressive" elements in talking wildlife kids' books? Talk about failing the ideological purity test...

    (Yes, I have been reading my new copy of Choice, and this reminded me of the Rage Against the Machine entry)

  • ||

    Anti-Irish bias the last acceptable prejudice? Please, Tim, you should thank your lucky charms you're not a Southern white boy. As for the Berenstein bears, I hear they were soft on torture too.

  • ||

    It was also attacked for enforcing outdated gender roles because (gasp!) Mama Bear stayed home and didn't work. There are just a lot of people in this country who need to get a life and stop bitching.

  • ||

    I was going to note that I find something annoying about the crunchy, pleasure-hating, vaguely Quakerish/hippie-ish vibe of the Berenstain adventures

    No need, Mr. Cavanaugh. It has been well established that you hate everything everywhere, always.

    Janey mack, they canceled Piggley Winks!? Maybe I was right: the Hugginkisses are the only ones who ever watched it...

    Watching that show is like watching a half-hour advertisement by the Ireland Tourist Board. Eleven-thirty in the morning and I want to put on a sweater and drink Guinness.

  • ||

    Eleven-thirty in the morning and I want to put on a sweater and drink Guinness.

    I want to do that without watching Piggley Winks, except the sweater part...I don't like sweaters.

    But that's probably because I'm a drunk. :)

  • ||

    Dolphins, Eskimos, Bears, it's all a bunch of tree-hugging hippie crap.

  • ||

    "...a wimp so passive and fumbling he makes Dagwood Bumstead look like Batman."

    This, my son, is something
    That you should never do.
    Let that be
    A lesson to you.

    (All I can remember from reading The Berenstein Bears Ride a Bike, or something. It has been a few decades.)

  • ||

    I really really don't like the Berenstein Bears - they annoy me mightily and we don't have their books in the house. Fortunately, my 4 year old is a Little Critter gal, and that's fine with me.

  • Jesse Walker||

    As I kid, I always misread it as "Bernstein Bears." And I thought they were written by Leonard Bernstein.

  • Rich Ard||

    Weird - I just came downstairs from reading to my kids, one after the other, "Just Me and My Dad" (Little Critter) and "The Berenstain Bears and the Missing Honey".

  • ||

    Exactly how macho are dads supposed to be in books written for four-year-olds? It's not exactly a masculine genre.

  • ||

    The complaints are valid if you buy into the whole Freudian framework, which is pretty damn popular these days.

    My mother had a similar complaint as Krauthammer, though we had several of the books. Why is it the mother is always right? she wondered. Shouldn't feminists rejoice for a character who chooses not to work but is never wrong ever?

  • ||

    "Look out, Itchy, he's Irish!"

    I liked The Berenstain Bears growing up. They always reminded me of Chuck Jones's bear family (2/3 down page).

  • ||

    Any children's story that has a goddamn moral for an ending should be shunned for thousands of years. The whole point of childhood isn't to learn how to be good, it's to learn how to get away with as much as you can without getting in trouble. You can quote me on that.

  • ||

    the B book!

    Big brown bear blue bull beautiful baboon blowing bubbles biking backwards bump black bug's bannana boxes and Brother Bob's Baseball bus and Buster Beagle's Bagpipe Bugle Band and that's what broke baby bird's balloon.

  • ||

    Even though the books were around when I was a toddler in the early '70s, I never saw one--I was more of a "Cat in the Hat" sorta guy.


Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Video Game Nation: How gaming is making America freer – and more fun.
  • Matt Welch: How the left turned against free speech.
  • Nothing Left to Cut? Congress can’t live within their means.
  • And much more.