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Child's Play: The Berenstain Baby Boom, 1946-1964 - Cartoon Art of Stan and Ja n Berenstain Hardcover – Bargain Price, April 1, 2008
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From School Library Journal
Grade 3 Up—Stan and Jan Berenstain met in art school and collaborated on cartoons about children and family life for magazines such as McCall's and Collier's. There was even a short-lived comic strip titled Sister; the title character was an early prototype for Sister Bear in the "Berenstain Bears" series. This book collects the couple's early work, from the late 1940s through the early '60s. Children may be drawn to this attractively packaged book's brightly colored pages and illustrations, but the content will appeal more to adults, especially to baby boomers.—Lisa Goldstein, Brooklyn Public Library, NY
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When I saw this book, I knew that I had to have it to see the wonderful and very human art that these covers actually were! Norman Rockwell was easy to find, for his covers of the Saturday Evening Post, but the Berenstain covers were lost, it seemed.
While many of those covers are reproduced in this book, the pages are a little too small to contain all of the whimsy and pranks that the children were up to, and the grownup's reaction to them. But it's the best that I find available, which is why I'm giving it four stars.
I would have preferred double spreads or foldouts of those wonderful covers instead of of some of the single-panel cartoons that are in here.
I first learned about the Berenstains when I was a 10 year old crazy about dinosaurs and some neighbors gave me a copy of one of the Berenstain's "It's All in the Family" features from McCall's which was about a little boy who was crazy about dinosaurs! They caught me and my hobby (and its effects on the other members of my family) to a T!
Even at that age, I became a fan and began collecting what Berenstain cartoons and books I could find. I particularly liked the cartoons because while they were always extremely funny, they were also totally realistic, with no exaggeration for comic effect like you would get in other domestic cartoons like "Hi and Lois," "Blondie" or "Zits." They were doing what Lynn Johnston does now with "For Better or For Worse" long before she did.
Unfortunately, the Berenstain's success with their "Bears" seemed to put an end to their creation of cartoons for adults. When I became an adult, I was delighted when the internet came along and I was able to find copies of their early books that I had missed.
Now I am delighted to find that one of their children has produced a retrospective collection of their early work. Any fan of theirs ought to get a copy.
I have to admit I haven't gotten mine yet, but I have leafed through it at a bookstore and my main complaint is this--not enough! A book like this ought to be virtually nothing but wall-to-wall Berenstain cartoons with as little commentary as possible. However, I observe that this volume shorts the reader in this respect. There is an awful lot of dead space in the volume. For example, often a single cartoon, which would have originally been one of a half dozen set in an issue of McCalls, is presented as the only thing on a single page surrounded by nothing by blank space. Even keeping the cartoon the same size, another three cartoons could have easily shared the same page with it.
So, please, Mr. Berenstain--give us more! Another volume with nothing but cartoons in it, maybe complete runs of all the Berenstain cartoons from each of the magazines in which they appeared. Or maybe omnibus volumes containing several of their short humorous books like MR. DIRTY & MRS. CLEAN or FLIPSVILLE/SQUARESVILLE.