LITCHFIELD PARK, AZ—Since reading The Berenstain Bears Get The Gimmies last month, 6-year-old Melody Johnson has lived a changed life, the above-average reader reported Monday.
"The Berenstain Bears Get The Gimmies is my favoritest book ever," said Johnson, hugging the dog-eared book to her chest with both arms. "The Berenstain Bears taught me about not being greedy. I used to have the 'galloping greedy gimmies,' but not anymore."
Johnson received the life-altering 32-page book, one in a series of more than 50 written and illustrated by Stan and Jan Berenstain, as a gift from her grandmother.
"Gramma Gloria gave me this book," Johnson said. "I used to go to the store with Mommy and want more and more. Now, I pick out one thing I really, really like."
"I know lots of stuff I didn't ever know before," added Johnson, who first began reading at age 3 and three-quarters. "You can ask Mommy or Daddy or anyone at school."
While she still looks at Get The Gimmies "every single day," Johnson asked her parents to buy her more books from the Berenstain series.
"I used to really like Clifford [The Big Red Dog] books," Johnson said. "I guess they're still good, sorta, but the Berenstain Bears are the best. I like the way the bears look, especially their noses."
Delighted by the positive influence of Get The Gimmies, Johnson's parents purchased their daughter 14 more books from the series.
"These books really speak to Melody," said Johnson's father Gordon. "We overheard Melody calling her brother's room a 'dust-catching, wall-to-wall, helter-skelter mess.' That's from The Berenstain Bears And The Messy. Melody's very bright for her age, you know."
"'You can't have fun or relax in a room that's such a terrible mess,'" Johnson recited. "I mesmerized [sic] that part, so I wouldn't forget it."
Johnson frequently offers others snippets of the Bears' wisdom.
"I was playing in the sandbox the other day," Johnson said. "Spencer was making fun of Kate's dress. I remembered when Brother Bear learned his lesson in Too Much Teasing. Brother thought it was fun to tease, until someone teased him. Then it was no fun."
"I told Spencer he should read Too Much Teasing, and then he wouldn't tease anymore," Melody said. "But he just called me a rotten egg. I tried to give the book to him so he could borrow it. But he wouldn't take it. It's a good book. It's funny, and it'd teach him a lesson."
Some of Melody's other friends have been more receptive to her testimonials about the life-changing power of the Berenstain Bears. Best friend Angie Bishop started reading the books after Johnson recommended them at a recent sleepover.
"I read Get The Gimmies as soon as Melody told me about it, and I really liked it," Bishop said. "I went to the library and got lots of other ones, too. I've been reading them all week. My favorites are The Berenstain Bears Forget Their Manners and The Berenstain Bears Visit The Dentist. Others are super good, too."
Added Bishop: "Melody found them first. But I think I understand them a little better. I'm like Sister Bear. She says something and I think, 'That's what I would say.'"
Johnson, who has been reading above her grade level for the past two years, does not view reading as a contest.
"I'm happy to have the books," said Johnson, who reports she used to take things she was given for granted, but no longer. "Like in Count Their Blessings. There [are] lots of good things that you want to happen, but you probably already have a lot of good things, so remember to be happy about those. That is just so true."
Johnson's mother agreed that her daughter's outlook has changed for the better.
"Not only has she learned a lot of life lessons, but she also learned to ride a bike without training wheels," Carrie Johnson said. "She never fights nap-time anymore, and she's making great strides with her violin playing. I haven't seen her this inspired since last year, when she was blown away by getting to shake hands with the Three Little Pigs at Storybook Gardens."