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Children’s author and illustrator Jan Berenstain dead at 88

Pennsylvania’s Jan Berenstain, co-author and illustrator of the beloved Berenstain Bears book series, has died. Berenstain suffered a stroke on Thursday and died on Friday at the age of 88.

With over 300 titles published in 23 languages, the stories of Mama Bear, Papa Bear, Brother Bear, and Sister Bear have sold 260 million copies worldwide. The first book, The Big Honey Hunt, was published in 1962.

From The Washington Post:

The books in recent years have tackled modern subjects such as online safety and childhood obesity, and the bears (or their human helpers) answer children’s emails and letters, but the goal is to tell enduring, universal stories. Perennial favourites cover challenges of getting kids to doing chores, defuse fears of the first day of school and teach values of kindness and generosity.

It’s wonderful to do something you love for so many years, Jane Berenstain told the Associated Press in 2011. Not everyone has that.

Stan and Jan Berenstain created hundreds of books together until his death in 2005 at the age of 82. She continued to work from her home in Buck County, the inspiration for the books’ setting, until the day before she died.

For the past few years, the Berenstains’ son Mike has collaborated with his mother and plans to continue to write and illustrate the series, while his older brother, Leo, holds up the business end of the family publishing franchise.