Saturday, August 1, 2015

The Bike Lesson by Stan and Jan Berenstain (1964)

Early, old school Berenstain bears are still rad.

Only page I remembered
The Berenstain Bears franchise, however, probably ranks as my least favorite of all children's books.  I hate them because they are annoyingly pedantic and issue driven.  And the Bear family went from being pleasantly goofy to Christian conservative.  I'm sort of surprised that Mama Bear now doesn't have her own 19 kids and counting, a la the Duggars.  Or running for president on the Republican ticket (or at the very least, for governor of Alaska).

Phooey to the Berenstain Bears.  You should have stayed old school cool.

Bumbling Idiot
The Bike Lesson is the second book.  Mama Bear's knowing and wry looks bookend this story perfectly.  Plus, I love her house dress.

Oh Grrrl
This book appeared in 1964, when Dads maybe could still be called the Kings of Television. Although Father Knows Best had gone off the air several years before, and Ward Cleaver the year before (and Kennedy assassinated the year before too), the top shows all had strong father figures:  Bonanza, Andy Griffith, My Three Sons.    But the goofy, dumb, bumbling dad, the favorite of so many modern television commercials - he was sort of on the television schedule as well.  Dick Van Dyke was sort of that kind of dad; The Munsters dad was sort of that kind of dad too.  Father Bear from the Berenstain Bears, he's the classic dumb father, at least in these early books.
The side eye of true love

The Bike LessonThe Bike Lesson by Stan Berenstain
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I like this book as a thoughtful period piece (think about the roles of fathers on television in the 1950s and 1960s, and roles of fathers today, particularly the trope of the dumb dad in television commercials; now compare and contrast to these proto-Berenstain bears; discuss among yourselves).  I also like this book because the proto-Berenstains were rad and cool.  And there is a touch of nostalgia; everyone learned to read on at least one Berenstain Bears book.  Modern Berenstain Beariana though, I have no use for, other than to comment that I think Mama Bear is running for President on the Republican ticket in 2016 (or maybe Governor of Alaska, I'm not sure).

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