Cover image for Down a sunny dirt road : an autobiography
Down a sunny dirt road : an autobiography
Berenstain, Stan, 1923-2005.
Publication Information:
New York : Random House, [2002]

Physical Description:
202 pages : color illustrations ; 27 cm
In alternating chapters Stan and Jan Berenstain, creators of the Berenstain Bears, tell their own stories from early childhood until their marriage, then continue the tale together to the present day.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 6.8 6.0 65476.

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS3552.E6997 Z46 2002 Juvenile Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
PS3552.E6997 Z46 2002 Juvenile Non-Fiction Biography
PS3552.E6997 Z46 2002 Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf
PS3552.E6997 Z46 2002 Juvenile Non-Fiction Biography

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Once upon a time, in Mrs. Sweeney's first year drawing class at the Philadelphia Museum School of Industrial Art, a "lantern-jawed exotic" named Stan admired the drawing of a brown-haired, blue-eyed girl named Janice . . . and it was kismet! It also heralded the birth of one of the great collaborations in all of children's literature: Stan and Jan Berenstain, creators of the Berenstain Bears.This enormously readable account tells of the early years before they met, their courtship (briefly interrupted by World War II), married life, and their first fateful meeting with Theodor Seuss Geisel -- the editor-in-chief and president of Beginner Books.It was this fateful meeting that led to the publication of The Big Honey Hunt -- the book that launched their careers as children's book artists and introduced to the world what would quickly become America's first family of bears: the Berenstain Bears.

Author Notes

Stan Berenstain was born in 1923 in Philadelphia, the same year and place as his future wife, Jan. They met as students at the Philadelphia College of Art. World War II delayed their career plans: Stan joined the army as a medical assistant while Jan supported the war effort by working in an airplane factory. They married in 1946 and together began drawing cartoons for the McCall's/Good Housekeeping It's All in the Family series. They worked on this feature from 1956 through 1990.

The Big Honey Hunt, published in 1962, was their first book for children. This book about a family of bears, written for Dr. Seuss's Beginner Books series, was so popular that Dr. Seuss himself, Theodore Geisel, encouraged them to write more stories. Geisel's advice launched the Berenstains on life-career writing and illustrating the very successful Berenstain Bears books.

The Berenstain Bears' New Baby, published in 1974, was the beginning of the First Time Books series. The Children's Choice Award was given to The Berenstain Bears' New Neighbors in 1995. The Berenstains were also honored for their work in children's literature when they received the Ludington Award in 1989. There have been television shows based on the Berenstain Bears books, as well as CD-ROMs and videos.

Stan Berenstain passed away on November 26th, 2005, after a lengthy battle with lymphoma. He was 82.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 5^-8. Married more than half a century, the couple that has produced more than 200 Berenstain Bears books now offers a tandem autobiography, and their voices are as lively and quick as one might hope. The first few chapters are written alternately, as Janice and Stanley describe growing up and studying art during the Depression, as well as their fateful meeting in a Philadelphia art school. Their war stories (Janice was a Rosie the riveter, and Stanley found novel ways of using his artistic skills after being drafted) are of particular interest, humanizing that period for youngsters who might have outgrown the bears and now have a report on World War II to write. Their early work in cartooning for the Saturday Evening Post, among other publications, and the genesis of their bears under the manic tutelage of Theodore Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, make for engaging reading. The book is profusely illustrated with work from all phases of their careers, culminating in their own favorite images from titles across the decades. --GraceAnne A. DeCandido

Publisher's Weekly Review

The creative couple behind the bestselling Berenstain Bears opens this sprightly, joint autobiography with alternating chapters chronicling their respective childhoods in Philadelphia. Stan's and Jan's anecdotal recollections work in the kinds of details that children lap up: Stan remembers spotting his first zeppelin (a "great silver cigar"), Jan recalls tracing the White Knight onto a color plate of John Tenniel's artwork and, later, the couple use their childhood memories of the Saturday matinee as inspiration for a Collier's cover (reproduced in the book). After their creative aspirations bring them together as students at the Philadelphia Museum School of Industrial Art (recorded in successive chapters as "Stan Meets Jan" and "Jan Meets Stan"), they offer perspectives on the ensuing WWII years (Stan served as a medical artist in the Army, Jan worked as an aircraft riveter), then merge their voices into one. Highlights include their auspicious meeting with the feisty, at times cantankerous Theodor Seuss Geisel, editor-in-chief of Random House's new Beginner Books, and the launch of the furry family from Bear Country. The roomy, clean design is reminiscent of Bill Peet: An Autobiography; their illustrations of themselves jitterbugging or playing field hockey (rendered in the Berenstain's familiar, contemporary style) demonstrate the impressive versatility of the couple's talents. Though sometimes long on detail, this breezy, humorous saga makes for an intriguing publishing tale and may appeal most to aspiring artists and adult fans, who will happily follow these amicable, humble authors down their indisputably sunny autobiographical road. Ages 12-up. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 5 Up-The popular artists recount their early lives in alternating chapters from childhood until marriage. At that point, they tell their story together as they move from fledgling artists in the late 1940s and 1950s to the incredibly successful creators of the Berenstain Bears. The text is profusely illustrated with personal photographs; examples of their work, including the familiar bear family; pictures from lesser-known books; syndicated cartoons; advertisements; magazine covers; portraits; and paintings. The contrast between the commercially successful cartoons and their earlier traditional art is striking. The Berenstains provide a fascinating inside view of the children's book publishing world-the often frustrating process of getting works published, the early prejudices against cartoons in children's books, and their relationship with the volatile Theodore LeSieg as editor and mentor. This book will be a worthwhile read for those who loved these books when they were younger, as well as for adult fans of the popular bear family and the Berenstains' other work. The adult perspective, reminiscences of the 1930s and '40s including Stan's World War II experiences and the couple's courtship, and the emphasis on the publishing process make the book most appropriate for older readers. Parts of the book could be used with children with adult introduction. A comprehensive bibliography, chronology, and index are appended.-Heide Piehler, Shorewood Public Library, WI (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.