Farewell, Jan Berenstain
|Jan and Stan Berenstain in 1999. (Gian Luiso - AP)|
I was delightfully surprised by my interview with Mike, a soft-spoken man who is passionate about his work. Since his father Stan died in 2005, Mike has co-written and illustrated Berenstain Bears books with his mom and just two weeks ago they were working away. So I was so very sad to learn that Jan passed away Friday, but glad to know she was drawing right up to the end. Mike told me that when people asked her when she'd slow down she'd say "Maybe I should retire and take up painting."
|Mike Berenstain, with his mom Jan|
I love knowing that Stan and Jan Berenstain were rebels of a sort, not following a traditional path but trusting their own instincts and making a living with their art and humor (they did illustrations and cartoons long before the first Berenstain Bears book came along in 1962). What a legacy they've left—to their two sons who grew up in a house where the norm was that everyone drew and wrote stories—and to children who, whether their parents like it or not, often ask to hear those gentle tales read again and again.
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