In The Berenstain Bears Love Their Neighbors mother-son team, Jan and Mike Berenstain, offer a pictorial version of the good Samaritan story. In 1962 Stan and Jan Berenstain introduced the first Berenstain Bears books. Today Jan is still writing them, with Mike helping with both the storylines and the artwork, and the books currently have obvious Christian themes. In this latest episode, the Berestain Bears are very happy about their lovely tree home and they are proud to live in a neighborhood of other proud home owners, ranging from Mayor Honeypot to millionaires Squire and Lady Grizzly. However, the neighbors directly adjacent to the Berenstains are Clem, Shem, and Lem Bogg, three brothers who wear patched clothes, play with pigs, drive a smoky jalopy, and live in a run-down shack. No one in the neighborhood visits them, talks to them, or wants anything to do with them.
Then the Mayor proclaims a celebration day in town, complete with games, music, rides, and competitions. The Berenstains load their car with picnic supplies, and they dress in nice clothes. However, halfway to town the water hose on their car breaks, causing the motor to overheat and stall. The Berenstains expect their nice neighbors to stop and offer them a ride, but the Mayor needs to rush by them in order to be in time to give his opening speech, and the rich Grizzlys can't stop because they need to be on time to judge the flowering arranging contest.
Just when it looks hopeless, the Bogg brothers come by and attach a rope to the Berenstains’ car and tow them to their uncle's fix-it garage. The uncle repairs the car, but won't take payment because neighbors are supposed to help each other. This shames the Berestains, so Mama invites the Bogg brothers to dinner the next week, and they become good friends.
The book offers the text, "Love your neighbor as yourself," found in Luke 10:27 as the key verse for the story. At the back of the book are suggested projects that children can engage in to be good neighbors. The drawings are brightly colored and humorous, and the story makes its point without being heavy handed. This is both fun and informative reading for youngsters ages 4 - 7 years old. – Dr. Dennis E. Hensley, www.ChristianBookPreviews.com
The Little Lights Berenstain Bear series helps children learn how God wants them to live every day. Most of the Berenstain Bears’ neighbors are like the Bear family—they keep their homes neat and clean. Except for the Bogg Brothers who live in a run-down shack. In The Berenstain Bears Love Their Neighbors children learn that being a good neighbor takes more than keeping a nice home.