news that Jan Berenstain has passed away after suffering a stroke at the age of 88. While she isn't the only picture book luminary we've lost recently, she did have unique impact on my life in particular, so I hope you'll indulge me in a brief remembrance.
The Berenstain Bears were a staple in my childhood. He Bear, She Bear was the first book I ever read (although, to be fair, I probably had the whole thing memorized). Despite not having seen the attached books for years, I can still vividly recall paws stuck to floors with airplane glue and birds patterned like soccer balls. I remember my father illustrating the chords that made up the page turning music from their Golden Sight'N'Sound Story, The Berenstain Bears and the Spooky Fun House. I remember taping balloons to paper airplanes a la The Berenstain Bears' Science Fair. In the tangentally literary realm, I often fought to be the first bear out of the Spooky Old Tree in their board game (always as Sister, thank you very much), and I still have the theme song to their television show pop into my head every time Foursquare informs me that "I'm the mayor!"
Those oh-so-literally-named bears wormed their way into many aspects of my life, always with a welcome invitation, and they've remained there far past most children's books. Jan Berenstain can rest assured that she and Stan have had a lasting impact on several generations already and many more to come. Rest in peace.