The Sweet Smell of Christmas


Written by Patricia Scarry, Illustrated by J.P. Miller

Golden Books, 1970

One morning, Little Bear sat up in bed and sniffed and sniffed with his nose.

The plot in a nutshell:  A bear enjoys all the scents of the holidays.

Little Bear goes downstairs and finds his mother baking an apple pie. She tells him that he smells Christmas, which will be here soon. Father Bear takes him out into the forest to find a pine tree to cut down and bring home. Little Bear smells the tree and says he can smell Christmas again. The family decorates the tree and Mother brings some candy canes to hang on it. Little Bear smells the peppermint in the candy cane, which also smells like Christmas. He helps his mother make gingerbread men and serve hot cocoa to some carolers who stop by and finds both of those smells to be like Christmas. Santa delivers gifts to the Bear house and Little Bear finds a wonderfully fragrant orange in his stocking. The Bears agree it’s the best Christmas ever.

In a sense, this book doesn’t really comply with the theme this month, because all of my other books had ‘bear’ in the title.  But I make the rules around here so who cares if I break them, right? This is one of those books that was a favorite of mine when I was a little girl and a favorite of my kids when they were small, too. Patricia Scarry’s story is simple and sweet, with a real sense of family and J.P. Miller’s artwork whimsically showcases all the holiday colors and traditions.


Bears eating gingerbread men makes up for humans eating gummy bears.

But what makes this one special are the scratch-and-sniff stickers throughout the book that let you smell everything that Little Bear smells.  As a kid, I loved the hot cocoa sticker more than the others and it was worn out in my copy of the book, so I was really glad when they re-released it so that I could buy a new (and unscratched) copy for my kids. In looking for information about this book, I found a website that offers sticker replacements and they say they get lots of requests for them every holiday. Clearly there are lots of us with a nostalgic attachment to this holiday classic.

And what did we learn?  What I take away from this book is that Christmas brings a special kind of aromatherapy into the house and it’s wise to enjoy it.

I wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas!


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