The Small One is an half an hour theatrical featurette released in 1978 in the US with the theatrical reissue of Pinocchio. It was produced and directe by Don Bluth, who would later open his own animation studio.
Like “Pete’s Dragon“, the Small One was a throwback to the 50’s scheduled to debut on the
debut season of “Walt Disney’s Wonderful world of colour” television show.
This tale has been made popular originally by Bing Crosby on his radio show in the Forties and Fifties, who used to tell it every year on Christmas time.
The Small One is one of the rare religious oriented Disney animated films and it tells the story of a
young boy who is sad when he has to sell his favorite pet, the oldest and smallest of his father’s donkeys. When it becomes evident that the donkey can no longer perform a day’s work, the father decides to sell him. The young boy takes his donkey to Nazareth determined to find a caring new owner. Finally when it appears that the donkey will have to go to the tanner, a man named Joseph offers to buy him for a piece of silver to travel to Bethlehem with his wife Mary.