Big. Big brown. Big brown bear.

My old friend.

This is Big Brown Bear.  He's a bit worn out.  His stuffing is clumpy, the blacks of his eyes are chipped.  He is a well-loved bear.  He lives on a shelf, high up in the girls' bedroom.  When I watch a Toy Story movie, my thoughts turn to him and I feel guilty...  until I remember I'm watching an animated movie and that toys are not really alive.

This isn't really a nostalgia post.  This is about a book and toy that never really left.  

This was my favorite book as a small, small fry.  The Berenstains' B Book by Stan & Jan Berenstain, from the Bright & Early series by Random House.  It was first published in 1971.  My copy is a book club edition.  

It is also as worn and well-loved as my teddy bear.  Look at that poor, poor binding!

And this is where Big Brown Bear got his name.

I can quote this entire book.  "Big.  Big brown bear. Big brown bear, blue bull..."

There's blue bull!

"Big brown bear, blue bull, beautiful baboon..."

And alliterative chaos ensues!

The Berenstains' B Book by Stan & Jan Berenstain (A Bright & Early Book).  Random House Books for Young Readers, 1971.

I loved this book so much as a child.  I gave it to my little brother when he was born.  When I first started my old bookselling job, fresh out of college - putting that theatre degree to good use! - this was another book I looked up, hoping to find another copy.  Strangely enough, it was available...  and as a bargain book!

Copy number 2 is a reissue.  The new cover is from 1997, and the cute endpapers are replaced with generic Bright and Early papers.

But it's what's on the INSIDE that counts!

And see?  It was the same.
So a funny thing happened.  When I moved in with my husband, I left my new bargain copy behind.  Some years passed, Big Sis was born, and my mom and brother gifted me with old books and toys that had belonged to me.

However, my old copy was in such shabby condition.  I happened upon a nice book club edition at a used bookstore one day and couldn't resist it.  Then I found the bargain edition at my dad's, and now we have THREE copies!

One for me, one for Big Sis, and one for Little Sis?

Oh, and when I bought my bargain copy, I ordered the Berenstains' A Book and C Book (first published as C is for Clown) too.  I didn't even know those existed!

 Big Brown Bear is staring at me while I type this.  

I'm starting to feel guilty again.

Stupid Toy Story.

You can find The Berenstains' B Book on Amazon, Ebay, Etsy, or other sites for finding used books, or by enrolling in the Early Moments program, which is how I got my first copy!

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  1. You are SO adorable!! hilarious about your bear guilt :) I have three different copies of 'Peter Pan', if it makes you feel any better...:)

    1. I have multiple copies of the Alice books, but they have different covers and even different illustrators, so it seems a bit more justifiable. ;o) And thanks.

  2. Haha love that you have 3 copies of this! I have never heard of the A and C books either! When I was a kid I half-believed my toys were alive and had feelings and missed me while I was gone at school. :)

    1. Me, too! The Velveteen Rabbit didn't help with that, either. :o)

      The B Book is still the BEST.

  3. The B Book was my husbands favorite too. Though it wasn't a part of my childhood. When we first got married and he realized how crazy I was about kids books he figured I'd know all about the book every single person in his family could quote word for word. I didn't! BUT I do now and my kids love this book and I pick up every copy I ever find when I'm out thrifting because I figure it's a must have for any new family starting off. So I've gifted copies to many... and we actually have three copies in the house right now too! Great Book (I have my teddy from childhood still too... love ginger bear!)

    1. Yay! Glad to know it isn't just me. I think it's funny that I still loved this book so much, because the last page always made me sad. Poor baby bird... I loved it up until that page. And yay for spreading the wealth!

  4. I have books like that...where it's almost painful not to buy it because who knows when you might need an extra copy? :-) I recently saw the C Book for the first time, but I still have never read the A Book. I'm going to see if our library has it right now while I'm thinking about it...

    1. The A Book is cute. It's about ants! Angry ants advance...

      I'm glad to know I'm not alone in this. When favorite books go out of print, I believe that as book lovers, we should be stewards of those books. We should provide those old books a good home, whether it's our own or another book lover's. I'm a little weird like that, though. :o)


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