An examination of the web sites of HarperCollins and of the Rosenbach Museum & Library yields nothing except a press release acknowledging this fact, and a small graphic.
Why isn't this a bigger deal? It was the first book of the golden standard of modern readers, the "I Can Read" series, and it's a timeless classic of simple story-telling and Sendak's illustration. Is it being overshadowed by "The Cat in the Hat"'s anniversary?
OTOH, some of my coworkers, some of whom were not young, showed no recognition of the title, or only remembered the television series based on the book. 'Were they raised by wolves?' I thought.
This entry describes some of my first memories of reading and of "Little Bear." (The book in question was "Little Bear's Visit." I often went to visit my paternal grandparents, so the story seemed relevant to me.) The first of the series that I remember being read to me was "Little Bear's Friend."
Perhaps I liked it best because of its involving a doll, a tree, a pen, and a human girl, Emily. Little Bear's saying goodbye to Emily at the end of their idyllic summer of friendship broke my heart, more than the death of Bambi's mother ever could. When my mother read the first, original book to me, I remember being slightly afraid of Mother Bear's sly facial expression over Little Bear's shoulder when she's playing along and pretending that he's a visitor from outer space. (I'll post some images when I have access to a scanner.)
Looking at Amazon.com, it seems that the books were redone by an illustrator other than Sendak, which seems like sacrelige to me. Ugh. They're certainly not popular just for the stories. I thought the animated tv series was pretty good. There was a tie-in toy, a talking Little Bear doll. But then there was another tv tie-in stuffed bear. He had eyebrows which made him look kind of creepy.
Anyway, let's celebrate "Little Bear," please. Read the series to your children, and make the books part of your personal library if they aren't.