Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A Modest Proposal to the Berenstains

Berenstains, look. I feel like I know you pretty well by now. That's because Kate (age 6) demands several Berenstain Bears books at bedtime every night and has for a while. I've read your family of bears deal with God, death, the Gimmees, all the big issues.

Here's something that we both know that a lot of other people don't: that shit is long. Your books. They take a lifetime. That means several long bedtime minutes - minutes I could be spending doing other stuff- spent putting up with all the elements of these bears' lives. Including:

- Mama Bear's smug bossiness and persistent housecoat wearing.
- The fact that the two older kids are named Brother and Sister and that even their friends call them that.
- The fact that the parents are named Mama and Papa and that even their friends call them that.
- The fact that this treehouse of theirs is amorphous and mutable, sometimes huge, sometimes tiny.
- The fact that bears have opposable thumbs, wear clothes, walk erect all the time, and drive cars. And have jobs.
- The disquieting fact that there are no humans.
- The lack of anthropomorphizing in regard to other animals. Dogs are still dogs.
- Did I mention how LONG these books are.

So look, Berenstains, I've contributed many hours to your books. I've built up your brand. I couldn't do more for you unless I tattooed character illustrations on Kate's cerebellum.

And that's all fine.

All I want is one thing. One book where a human shows up, possibly just hiking through Bear Country, and the bears behave like bears. I want a mauled camper. Give it to me. Connect me with reality, Berenstains. Make it graphic.

This can be a secret edition, send it to me in a plain brown wrapper. I will acquire a wall safe and hide it there so the kids never see it, at least until they're eighteen, well sixteen, and can really appreciate it. Fourteen.

Do this for me, Berenstains. I'll never ask for anything again.



kbow said...

Ugh! I have always despised that Berenstains family and banned them from my kid's book collections. They are garage sale fodder.

Oddly enough, the Lil' Critter books by Mercer Mayer have many of the same traits but they are great.

Really, almost anything by Mercer Mayer is great. He must be a million years old...I still have a copy of A Boy a Dog and a Frog that my sister klepto'd from the Timberland Regional Library when she was a teenager (we both still love it and so do our kids).

There's a Nightmare in my Closet and There's Something in My Attic and those like it are fabulous.

Justin Riley said...

Can I respectfully request that the "camper" be Saxby Chambliss? I would pay upwards of $7.99 (plus shipping) to see that book.

hotcat said...

John, as a fellow former Federal-Way-er who has also found greener pastures in the midwest, I would like to congratulate you on your amazing success. I doubt you remember me, but your sis Elisabeth and I were good friends growing up. (Say hi to her for me; I'm formerly Linda Ferguson).

Re: the Berenstain Bears: It seems you are unfortunately reading the later ones, which did absolutely go downhill when they became lengthy and preachy, with all the talk of ethics, etc. The earlier ones, however, are classics! May I recommend "The Big Honey Hunt." It is fabulous, touching on the timeless theme of the dundering but well-meaning dad, father/son bonding, etc. in an absolutely hilarious way. Also good: Bear's Picnic, Bear Scouts, and Bear's Christmas. But if you don't have "Honey Hunt," rush out and buy it/order it! It is also just the right length for tuck-in.

Elisabeth said...

Hey Linda, I'd love to hear from you! ( And you're right about the Honey Hunt. Those earlier books were much more readable.

John, maybe you can gradually back Kate away from the bears and insert Pippi Longstocking. Still time-consuming, but a lot more fun to read.

"Post-Google" by TAR ART RAT said...

whoawhoawhoa -is it really spelled Berenstain???!!! I#ve been saying Baerensteen my whole life... almost not as shocking as yesterday when "the Greatest American Hero" bubbled up from somewhere deep in the recesses of memory, (the show was canceled in 1983!) but somehow the opening theme and accompanying imagery was so catchy that they just stuck, and all it took was a similar sounding Chicago song on the radio to reanimate/trigger them....

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

"Really, Science Museum of MN? An exhibit for kids based on CSI? Really? With blood spatters and murder and all? Really? Honestly? Really?"

Perhaps the Science Museum would be interested in your copy of Camper Meets the Bears.

My twin brother enjoyed those books. I hated them by virtue of his liking them. My policy of assiduously avoiding anything he favored has served me very well. Except for chocolate ice cream. He was right about that being superior to strawberry.

I like my bears British, thank you. Paddington Brown has wonderful adventures and gives people hard stares. Granted, he is no more bear-like than the Berenstains, but he does have amusing characters in his stories. We like to use the voice of cranky Mr. Curry when we call our child "Bear."