The Berenstain Bears and Too Much Junk Food
Posted by Tracy Poff on July 17, 2011
The Berenstain Bears and Too Much Junk Food is a didactic tale, seeking to teach children to eat healthy food and eschew eating junk food.
The story opens by talking about what a nice place Bear Country is, comfortable, full of nice places to live, and “best of all” full of healthy food for all its inhabitants. Mama Bear observes that her cubs have been eating a lot of junk food and are beginning to get a bit chubby. She shuts away the junk food in the freezer, and whisks the family away to see Dr. Grizzly, who shows them a slideshow to teach them that it’s important to eat healthy foods, and, as they’re leaving, enjoins them to exercise, as well.
The cubs are all too enthusiastic about their new diet (much as, in The Berenstain Bears and the Truth, they were all too enthusiastic to own up to their lie), and Mama provides them with various healthy snacks to replace the unhealthy things they had been eating–though one wonders at them sneaking food into a theater, which kids probably shouldn’t attempt.
In the end, although Papa wants to celebrate their finishing a race by eating junk food, the lesson seems to have stuck with the cubs, who insist on carrot sticks, nuts, and raisins.
The art in this one doesn’t strike me as being up to the usual standard. There’s nothing really wrong with it–it’s a bit simpler than usual, perhaps–but there aren’t any really great illustrations, either. Usually, the illustrations will be amusing, even when the story is dull, but there’s not much of that in this book.
This book is really purely didactic–the story is as minimal as possible. There’s not the slightest bit of tension, and very little comedy. It’s just not much fun. I admit that I don’t know quite how to make a didactic tale about the benefits of healthy food interesting, either, but it’s probably possible.
This book, like many of the Berenstain Bears books, is available on paper or for the Kindle, at fairly reasonable prices. Frankly, though, I’m not sure this one is worth it. Better, probably, to lecture your children personally about the benefits of a healthy diet. This book really just makes me want to go find some junk food–everyone looks so happy on the cover, eating various snacks, that it just can’t be all that bad, can it?