PPBF Looks at ‘Herbert – The True Story Of A Brave Sea Dog’

PPBF (Perfect Picture Book Friday) looks at Herbert The True Story of a Brave Sea Dog.

Anyone who has ever experienced grief when their pet got lost will appreciate the loyalty of one little boy and his deep belief that his dog will come home to him again.

I recall vividly the summer when my cat disappeared for several days. My parents were convinced it was Misha’s time, and he had gone off to die. Like Tim, in the picture book I am sharing today, I kept believing Misha was alive. During his absence, I wondered if Misha worried he’d never find his way home again. Did he miss me as much as I missed him? Was he hurt and unable to walk? I never knew the struggles Misha endured until his return. A hawk had tried to carry our cat away and in the struggle, broke a talon off in Misha’s back. Yes, my beautiful cat survived and lived for many more years.

For anyone who has experienced the sheer joy when a happy bundle of fur returns home, or can imagine such a joy, you will cherish Herbert – The True Story of a Brave Dog. 

Title – Herbert – The True Story of a Brave Sea Dog

Written and illustrated by- Robyn Belton

Published by- Candlewick Press – First U.S. edition 2010

Suitable for ages – 4  – 8

Topics/theme – Friendship, Loyalty, Hope, Faith, and Love

Opening – Herbert was a small dog who lived in Nelson, New Zealand, by the sea. Everybody liked Herbert, but the person who loved him most was Tim.

Jacket Flap  –  Herbert was a small dog who lived by the sea. Everybody loved him, but the person who loved him best of all was Tim. One fine day, Herbert set off on a boat with Tim’s father. And so began the biggest adventure of Herbert’s life. This heartwarming tale, written and illustrated by Robyn Belton, tells the remarkable true story of a young boy’s beloved dog and his real life adventure at sea.

Synopsis from Amazon – A boy never gives up hope when his little dog vanishes at sea in this suspenseful and heartwarming true-life adventure.

Why do I like this book? Robyn Belton tells a touching story that pulled at my heart. When Herbert fell overboard and wasn’t noticed missing until hours later, due to  bad conditions at sea, I welled up inside with sadness for Tim and for Herbert who would have a hard struggle ahead of him. I admired Tim’s devotion for his dog when, during their search out at sea, everyone gave up except him, and in looking one more time, a cherished friend and pet was found after enduring 30 hours in the sea. Robyn Belton’s sensitive watercolors offer the perfect feeling to this treasured tale. The end papers of this beautiful book offer a strong addition to the book in that they include photographs of Tim and Herbert, the medal Herbert was awarded, maps, and letters from people whose hearts were touched when they read of this incident in the newspaper. This isn’t a picture book I was content to check out of my library–this is a picture book I purchased because its rich writing and beautiful illustrations earned it a place in my home.

An interview with Robyn Belton  about this story can be viewed here.

6 thoughts on “PPBF Looks at ‘Herbert – The True Story Of A Brave Sea Dog’

    • Yes, Wendy, read this one with a couple tissues. I fell in love with this book on my first read and love it that much more every time I read it again. Thanks for the encouragement to write a story about what happened to my cat, but I’m finding animal rescue stories are hard to sell. I’m still trying to find interest in my NF wild duck rescue story, and that one has an extra terrific, totally surprising, uplifting ending. I’ll keep trying.


    • Thanks, Joanna, The story of what happened to my cat was so many (and I mean MANY) years ago, but I can still remember the ache in the pit of stomach when I saw the talon in his back. That cat went through so much. They say cats get 9 lives, and mine used all 9 up and then some.


  1. I love Misha’s story as much as I love the book you shared. I always have my eyes on the hawks that hang out in my backyard trees during the summer watching my toy poodle.

    What a heart warming story about a boy who doesn’t give up and believes his dog is alive. I love that it is a true story.


  2. Patricia, I’m starting to think I better take Misha’s story out of my memories, dust it off, and write it into a picture book. The memories, though long ago, are quite clear.

    I hope when you read the story of Herbert, you will enjoy it and love it as much as I do.
    Best wishes.


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