THEY MET on the first day of art school. As classmates, they often went to the Philadelphia zoo to draw bears. And over more than five decades, Jan and Stan Berenstain sold more than 250-million children’s books.
The anthropomorphic creatures in those picture books, of course, were bears — featuring a wise, assuring Mama Bear and an oft-hapless Papa Bear somewhat modeled after the real-life Berenstains themselves.
On Feb. 24, Janice Marian Grant Berenstain died at age 88 near her near Bucks County, Pa., home, reports The Post’s Emily Langer — seven years after Stan Berenstain’s death.
Launched in 1962, the Berenstain Bears books had their detractors, who derided the simple, folksy lessons and characters. (Post columnist Charles Krauthammer wrote in 1989 that Papa Bear was “the Alan Alda of Grizzlies, a wimp so passive and fumbling he makes Dagwood Bumstead look like Batman.”) But the “Dr. Seuss”-encouraged series also spawned generations of young fans, as well as TV shows and amusement rides.
Langer notes the Berenstains’ other collaborations as cartoonists, writing: “Their work regularly appeared in magazines including the Saturday Evening Post and Collier’s. They began a cartoon series, ‘All in the Family,’ that ran for more than three decades in magazines such as McCall’s and Good Housekeeping.”
Survivors include two sons, illustrator-writer Michael Berenstain and businessman Leo Berenstain, both of whom have worked for the family’s multimillion-dollar Berenstain Enterprises