Written by Else Holmelund Minarik, Illustrated by Maurice Sendak
“This picture makes me happy,” said Little Bear.
The plot in a nutshell: Little Bear sends a picture to his grandmother.
Little Bear wants to give his picture to his grandmother, so he gives it to Hen and asks her to deliver it. Grandmother is so happy that she gives Hen a kiss to pass along to Little Bear in return. On the way, Hen stops to chat with Frog and gives him the kiss, asking him to take it to Little Bear. Frog stops to swim in the pond and when he sees Cat, he asks Cat to come get the kiss and deliver it. Cat isn’t happy, but he gets the kiss and is on his way to deliver it when he gets sleepy. He passes the kiss on to Skunk, who gives it to a pretty girl skunk. The two skunks pass the kiss back and forth until Hen walks past and learns that it’s Little Bear’s kiss that still hasn’t been delivered. She gets it back from Skunk and delivers it to Little Bear. But when Little Bear wants to send a kiss back to his grandmother, Hen refuses, telling him it gets confusing. The skunks wind up getting married and Little Bear is the best man.
This was the sixth title in author Else Holmelund Minarik’s Little Bear series of books, which included seven books published between 1957 and 2010. I’m pretty sure this one is my favorite, although it’s been a long time since I have read the others and I don’t believe I’ve ever read the final one, which was published just two years before the author’s death. I think the story is funny and yet has a very sweet side to its plot and characters. The wonderful illustrations, from Maurice Sendak, show us a collection of great reactions from the animals passing the kiss around on its way back to Little Bear. It’s a super cute story that emphasizes the joy of giving to others.
And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that when you pass love along, you can’t help but absorb a little bit of it yourself.