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10 Wonderfully Awesome ‘Berenstain Bears’ Books

Berenstain Bears books
Random House

Fans of quality children’s books were saddened by the passing of Jan Berenstain, cocreator (with her husband Stan) of the long-running ‘Berenstain Bears’ books series. (Stan passed away in 2005 from cancer.)

Cartoonists and parenting book authors, Stan and Jan sought out to create a series that could deal with the ups-and-downs of parenting. The Berenstain Bears launched in 1962 with ‘The Big Honey Hunt,’ and includes over 300 titles published in 23 languages.

Offering simple lessons told through the lens of a hardworking family of bears, ‘The Berenstain Bears’ covered a wide variety of topics. Kids Brother Bear, Sister Bear and later addition Honey Bear were always getting into mischief, with bumbling Papa Bear often joining in on the fun. (Mama Bear, perpetually dressed in her nightgown and cap, was often resigned to scowling in the corner.) Take a look at 10 of our favorite Berenstain Bears book covers below.

‘Too Much Junk Food’ (1985)

Berenstain Bears Junk Food
Random House

Even bear cubs love junk food, as evidenced by the way Brother and Sister Bear are going to town on those jellybeans. But Papa Bear’s sweet tooth is also causing Mama Bear to adopt her frowny face. What exactly are those “Sweet Pops” that Papa is about to dig into? Cotton candy? Pink Panther attic insulation? Whatever it is, it doesn’t look edible.

‘The Big Honey Hunt’ (1962)

berenstain bears
Random House

The first Berenstain Bears book (seen above with its original cover) involved Papa and Brother bears hunt for some tasty honey. Since this was an early book, the artwork is somewhat different and the family exhibits more bear-like characteristics. While it’s nice to see Papa having a taste for something other than Sweet Pops, the fiendish look on his face in pursuit of that poor bee is more than a little disturbing.

‘Learn About Strangers’ (1985)

the berenstain bears
Random House

“Stranger danger” was a big thing during the ’80s with kids constantly being told to avoid anyone offering candy or a ride in their sweet van. As evidenced by the cover above, literally anyone could be a kidnapper. (Oh, you know blue hat bear is up to no good.) After seeing a headline about missing cubs (what, the bears didn’t have milk cartons?), Sister Bear starts to view everyone as a stranger. Mama tells her that not every apple is bad, there are just a few rotten apples. (No. Seriously. That is literally the analogy Mama uses. Subtle these books were not.)

‘Trouble at School’ (1987)

the berenstain bears trouble at school
Random House

That said, maybe a stranger is preferable to the wrath Brother Bear faced from Papa after failing his division test. (Sister looks positively terrified.) Based on the cover, it looks like Brother didn’t even bother to guess-timate. Perhaps he’s deserving of whatever punishment is about to be doled out.

‘Media Madness’ (1995)

berenstain bears media madness
Random House

The “video age” comes to Bear County School when Teacher Bob helps Brother and Sister set up a school TV station. While the book is supposed to promote the “three R’s” over TV and music videos, the cover suggests that the story is more about the dangers of running an amateur circus. Just what kind of TV station was Teacher Bob running?

‘No Guns Allowed’ (2000)

The Berenstain bears no guns allowed
Random House

In recent years, the ‘Berenstain Bears’ books have tackled issues like drug abuse (‘The Berenstain Bears and the Drug Free Zone’), the siren call of advertising (‘The Berenstain Bears and the Trouble With Commercials’) and the dangers of using a squirt gun that looks like a semi-automatic weapon to enact some kind of strange bear-related gangland warfare with your schoolyard chums. This odd story involves little-seen characters Ferdy the Nerd and Too Tall the jock, who team up for a school project about guns. (Clearly the administration at Bear County School was asleep at the wheel that day.) Naturally Too Tall brings a realistic-looking squirt gun to school, and the Bear SWAT Team has to be called in.

‘Messy Room’ (1983)

messy room berenstain bears
Random House

A classic of the Berenstain Bears series, ‘Messy Room’ finds Brother and Sister squabbling over who should clean up their shared room. One thing we can all agree on is that Brother looks like less like a bear and more like something in the beaver or woodchuck family on this cover. Perhaps Mama needs to have a talk with Papa.

‘Sci-Fi Pizza’ (1996)

berenstain bears scifi pizza
Random House

The Berenstain Bear Scouts spin-off series was less about moral lessons and more about spinning generic action stories with bears. In this outing, the Bear Scouts must outrace a giant flying pizza cooked up by the dastardly Weasal McGreed. The series was basically ‘Ducktales’ by this point.

‘Too Much TV’ (1984)

berenstain bears too much tv
Random House

The iron paw of Mama Bear comes down when the family spends too much time in front of the boob tube. Though, with programming like that, who can blame them. Who doesn’t want to watch the “dog dressed like an old-timey carnival barker” show?

‘At the Teen Rock Cafe’ (1996)

teen rock cafe berenstain bears
Random House

Cool teacher Ms. Acappella teaches the cubs about rock music and helps them solve a mystery in this insane mid-’90s entry. The Teen Rock Cafe is clearly inspired by The Max from ‘Saved by the Bell.’

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