Childhood favorites sometimes feel like they become obsolete the moment we move on, as if our personal maturation encases beloved national treasures in amber. Unless you're a parent or an early grade school teacher, you probably haven't thought about the Berenstain Bears series of books since second grade, but the ensuing decades have not slowed the pace of development in Bear Country.
While you were growing up, Stan and Jan Berenstain introduced chapter books with tales of ursine civil war. Their son, Michael Berenstain, injected religion into the stories. Baby cubs have been born, pandas have joined the neighborhood, and new virtues have been pursued. For the lapsed Berenstain Bear reader, there is a lot to catch up on — but luckily, Phil Gonzales has been keeping a careful public accounting of each and every development in Bear Country.
As the host of the podcast Deep in Bear Country, Gonzales has gone deeper than anyone into the world of Mama, Papa, Sister, and Brother Bear. Each episode of his podcast focuses on a different Berenstain book, while also tackling ancillary issues like whether the bears ever really had the surname "Berenstein." (He's very passionate about this particular matter.)
On this episode of The Fandom Files, Gonzales shares his deep passion for all things Berenstain Bears and explains why, exactly, he's so obsessive about the bear canon in the first place.