Jan Berenstain, who co-wrote the Berenstain Bears books with her husband Stan, has died at 88. The books are probably best characterized as a gentler, more lesson-oriented version of The Simpsons with a bumbling dad, an efficient mom, an oldest-child brother and a feisty sister—they can be a bit didactic. But Sister Bear, who Stan and Jan added to the franchise so girls would have a character to relate to, is basically the jock version of Lisa Simpson, whether she’s slugging her brother one shortly after she’s born, infiltrating a dopey boys’ clubhouse, or winning road races and killing it at baseball.
Hilariously, the books drove Charles Krauthammer nuts. In 1989, he described Papa Bear as “post-feminist…The Alan Alda of grizzlies, a wimp so passive and fumbling he makes Dagwood Bumstead look like Batman” and said that Mother Bear was so irritating she was “the one you always dreamt of drowning,” which is a pretty creepy reaction to an organized woman who watches her cholesterol. He acknowledged that the kinds of companies that put out the books “put in question my most basic political principles, since I cannot deny that socialism, whatever its faults, does not permit such things.”