Pulse: 60-Second Critic: Anthology: Child’s Play: Cartoon Art of Stan and Jan Berenstain

By Mike Berenstain (Abrams; $35)

Long before the Berenstain Bears children’s books came to fame, newlyweds and University of the Arts grads Stan and Jan Berenstain holed up in their tiny Elkins Park apartment, drawing scenes of baby-boom family life. These cartoons — in a hefty 175-page coffee-table tome by son and Bucks County resident Mike Berenstain — revel in both Norman Rockwell zeitgeist and Dennis the Menace rebellion, forming a tongue-in-cheek response to postwar ideas of parenting (Dr. Spock included). Some 200-plus drawings shed light on an ideal of suburbia and stay-at-home moms, while a light running narrative provides biographical details and the genesis of specific drawings. While the Berenstains will forever be known for their nuclear family of bears, these annals show they had something to say about the human one, too. A

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