DOWN A SUNNY DIRT ROAD by Jan Berenstain

DOWN A SUNNY DIRT ROAD

An Autobiography
Age Range: 12 & up

KIRKUS REVIEW

Two of the all-time bestselling children’s authors reminisce—at length—about growing up in the ’30s and ’40s, getting their start in magazine cartooning, then moving into children’s books as proteges of Ted Geisel (Dr. Seuss). Though Stan, at least, can turn a lively phrase, describing himself at the beginning, for instance, as “a fat-kneed little kid riding a tricycle out in front of my grandmother Nelly’s Army and Navy Store,” and his wife-to-be’s smile coming up “like thunder ’cross the bay,” this narrative, written in alternating chapters until the authors’ post WWII marriage and in a collective voice thereafter, seldom gets beyond an ordinary, self-absorbed tally of random memories, names and addresses, daily activities, school and wartime experiences. Should readers get that far, the final third picks up steam, as the Berenstains recount the sometimes quirky genesis of their first few books, and their often-stressful working relationship with the brilliant, domineering, opinionated, infuriating Geisel. Similarly, the illustrations, most of them either new or previously unpublished, mix earnest, conventional art school studies and student work with occasional lighter cartoons that take on that familiar Berenstain style only in the later chapters. Closing with standard tributes to editors and collaborators, plus a few fan-mail anecdotes, these pedestrian memoirs add detail but no dimension to profiles in reference titles. (index, huge bibliography) (Autobiography. 12+)

Pub Date: Sept. 24th, 2002
ISBN: 0-375-81403-5
Page count: 208pp
Publisher: Random House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 2002




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