I’ve not seen such bravery Books are great Don’t get me wrong But for some people – like me – reading pages and pages of small text all packed together can be a bit difficult. I was never known for being a recreational reader when I was younger…or ever, really. But there was a type of book that I always seemed to return to back in the day: Living Books! We’ve talked about them before, but here’s a little bit of a refresh on the history of the series Originally produced by Brøderbund, then jointly owned by both Brøderbund and the book publisher Random House, Living Books are interactive children’s books released for both Macintosh and Windows. The first Living Book was released in 1992, and the last in 1998. Nowadays, the software lives on as Wonderful Interactive Storybooks Developed by original Brøderbund programmers, the Wonderful Books are simply Living Books recoded to work on Android and iOS devices. It’s pretty cool the programs I grew up with are finding life on modern devices so that kids today can grow up with them too! Today, we’re going to be looking at “The Berenstain Bears Get in a Fight”, and no matter where you fall on the parallel universe conspiracy that the Bears inadvertently contributed to, I’ll be calling them the Beren/stain/ Bears, as pronounced in this book.
Game: “The Berenstain Bears Get in a Fight!” Though I must admit, I always called them the Beren/steen/ Bears growing up. Brother: “This is a story about how we got into a big fight!” Sister: “Hmph! It’s also about how we made up!” After revealing major spoilers to the story we’re about to hear, Brother and Sister Bear do some dancing, as is expected in a menu screen for a Living Book’s title. Once you tire of watching the cubs do their, at times, incredibly impressive dance, it’s time to get the story started. We open at the Berenstain Bears’ house, which never looked weird to me when I was little, but now it just looks…narrow. I guess that’s a downside to growing up; I now question the practicality of living inside a hollowed-out tree. Choosing to play inside the story at the beginning of the game allows us to click around the world of the Berenstain Bears, which was always fun back in the day. We saw the bears in books and on television, but being able to interact with the world a bit made the story feel a bit more personal. Mother: “Cubs! Get up! Your breakfast is ready!” Mother: “I’ve made your favorite – my famous honey-nut pancakes!” The story begins, chronicling how great the siblings relationship is – it truly is the rise before the fall. Here we see them politely taking turns using the bathroom. And if you’ve ever wondered how bears get ready in the morning, this should answer all of your questions *happy music* Uhhh, yeah, so – there you go. Anyway, now that they’re ready for the day, It’s time to continue seeing just how great the relationship between Brother and Sister Bear is: *cheerful music* Woah, are you kidding? I know they only just walked down the stairs, but that seemed like some high-quality animation right there. I’m impressed! Narrator: “They said ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ at breakfast.” Sister: “Thanks!”
*cheerful music* The animation in this is great! In fact, it’s clear that there was significant time and effort put into each aspect of this Living Book I particularly like the music choices and the narrator’s voice is really soothing. Though I do question why the bears are building a treehouse if they already /live/ in a treehouse – you’d think they’d just build a regular house or something. So here we have the pinnacle of bear sibling friendship – Brother Bear is using Sister Bear’s clay to work on a school project, while she plays with his toy car What a happy family! It sure would be a shame if they all hated each other! Narrator: “Maybe it was the weather. or maybe it was because the mockingbird slept late – but whatever it was, They got into a big fight…” Brother: “Get your dopey feet out of my face!” Sister: “My feet /aren’t/ dopey! And they’re not in your face!”
Brother: “Get your dopey /face/ out of my face!” There’s no real reason for the conflict, of course. Sometimes you just wake up in a bad mood and don’t want your sister’s dopey feet in your face. I get that. The kids begin to get on each other’s nerves, singing annoying songs Sister: *singing* “Brother Bear’s a noodle-head, noodle-head, noodle-head!” and kicking over dolls Doll: “Waah!” Yeah, that’s not creepy or anything. Now everything the cubs usually do with love and friendship, they do with hatred and being a little turd. They stop saying please and thank you at the table; they don’t sit next to each other on the bus; and they even Brady Bunch their treehouse. Again, I’m pretty impressed with the animation. This is a neat little book! Brother: “Those are /my/ toys. You can’t play with them!” Sister: “Well, I want my clay back! Your dinosaurs look stupid anyway!” Brother: “Hey, that was my school project!” The cubs continue to fight as their parents just kind of let it happen for a little while longer. Finally, Mama Bear’s had enough and since the cubs down to talk about…love or some crap “Everybody gets into an argument once in a while,” said Mama. “Even folks who love each other very much.” Now that the cubs are –
Owl: “Who?” Owl: “I say who?” Owl: “I say who in this bear country needs to fight?” …Okay. Now that the cubs –
Owl: “Life is too exciting, to waste it with this fighting. Tell me, tell me who needs to fight?” Now –
Owl: Who who whooOOOO God! Everyone’s friends again, and they see a rainbow, the end! You know, the Berenstain Bears were always pretty straightforward with their storytelling; the title of the book says they’re gonna get in a fight, so they get in a fight, but we all know it’s gonna be A-Okay in the end. We need a story with a bit more meat, something we can really sink our teeth into. Arthur’s Teacher Trouble was released on December 1st, 1992, the same time as Just Grandma and Me. These are the first entries in the Living Book series, so we shouldn’t expect the same level of polish as we saw in the Berenstain Bears. The animation in the opening dance ranges from passable to… horrifying, so this should be an interesting ride. It’s the end of the first day of school and while the other students run around and have fun, Arthur’s new teacher, Mr. Ratburn, has the students leave the class in alphabetical order Which is honestly the stupidest idea ever. I don’t see how making your students leave the classroom in alphabetical order Does anything other than solidify you as mad with power. Students who have had Ratburn before give Arthur some warnings about him, saying he’ll send Arthur to death row If he makes a wrong move, and that he’s actually a vampire with magical powers. Arthur on death row, or Arthur vs a vampire teacher would make for super interesting stories. This one’s about a spelling bee… So… Despite the title of the book being “Arthur’s Teacher Trouble” The story is mainly about a spelling bee. But for now, Ratburn gives the students homework after the first day of school. “Have a chocolate chip cookie!” said Mother. “Don’t have time,” said Arthur. “I have tons of homework.” I’m not really sure what the homework is But it results in Arthur making a map of Africa out of flour, salt raisins, paint, and a…dragon. Doesn’t really seem like he minds, though. He looks like he’s having a pretty good time! *sound of wet clay* *LOUD SOUND OF WET CLAY* The next day, all of the story we’ve heard thus far becomes irrelevant. The stories about Ratburn? Pointless! The cookies Arthur’s Mom was making? Extraneous! Africa might as well not even exist at this point! The only page that is related to the rest of the story is the one where there’s a giant trophy for spelling. Ratburn says that there will be a spelling test at the end of the week which consists of 100 words. Cat: “I don’t even /know/ a hundred words!”
Oh, I bet /she’s/ gonna do really well. The top two spellers will represent their class in the spelling competition. Why didn’t he tell the students about the test the previous day so they had more time to study? Probably the same reason he makes them leave the room in alphabetical order He’s a big dumb wiener! Arthur and his friends spend the next two pages studying, which is about as interesting as it sounds, and when the test rolls around, Arthur aces it, 100% Ratburn: “Our class representatives for the Spell-o-thon will be The Brain and and Arthur!” That, of course, means he needs to study even more because now he’s in the spelling competition. The only spelling bee related memory that I have is when it came around in junior high. Everyone had to enter, but the entry test didn’t actually count towards a grade in a class. So I intentionally misspelled every word on that test just so I wouldn’t have to go to the spelling bee. Because sometimes underachieving and being lazy is pretty great. For some reason nobody ever based a children’s book or TV show on my school experiences, but maybe one day Oh man, look at all these words! The next few pages are just a list of words which Arthur spells out when you click on them. I’m assuming [that] these are the most skipped-over pages in the book, so let’s take a little bit of a closer look. Arthur: “B – A – L – L – O – O – N!” *pop* *screams* Arthur: “Balloon!”
Alright, well, that’s enough of that. Arthur’s family helped him study Narrator: “How about your C – H – O – R – E – S?” Father asked. Narrator: “Have you made your B – E – D?” Mother added? Oh, wow Arthur’s mom is really breaking out the big guns here! “Bed?” How is he supposed to spell that?! Arthur studies even more, going so far as to avoid his friends when they want him to come outside and play. I’m sure this is just really exciting to children This is the kind of fun story that kids want to hear! “Hey Mom, can you read the story about the kid who studies a lot and avoids having fun with his friends? That one’s my favorite!” But of course, all that studying pays off and after a tense couple of rounds Arthur wins the prestigious Spelling Award. Narrator: “Preparation,” he said. “P – R – E P – A – R – A – R – E – P – R – A – P – R – A – P – R – A I – O – N.”
“Correct!” The End! What a…great story. Right? You know I gotta say, these two stories weren’t really as interesting to me as Harry in the Haunted House, or Ruff’s Bone. Some siblings got into a fight, there was a spelling bee Eh. But the Living Book series is still really cool. and the Berenstain Bears book was super high-quality And maybe, just maybe, one day, I’ll live a life that’s worthy of being put into a Living Book. Maybe.
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