Perfect Picture Book – Friday

Herbert The Brave Sea Dog

A True New Zealand Story

Author/Illustrator:   Robyn Belton

First Published : in 2008 by Molly Paul Books.

Ages: 3 – 7

Theme:  Faith, belief, devotion, survival, historical fiction,

First Lines:  Herbert was a small dog who lived in Nelson by the sea.  Everybody liked him, but the person who loved him most was Tim.

Synopsis:   Herbert was a small dog who lived in Nelson, New Zealand, by the sea. Everybody liked him, but the person who loved him most was young Tim. One day, an excited Herbert sets off with Tim’s father on a boat, heading for their cottage in the Marlborough Sounds, while the rest of the family travel by land. However, the weather soon turned rough and Herbert was catapulted into the biggest adventure of his life, from which he emerged a hero. Robyn Belton’s heartwarming, beautifully illustrated retelling of a true-life story of a very strong bond and belief, that Herbert will survive is very moving, even in this short story. The fact that Herbert survived swimming for 30 hours is incredible and made headlines around the country.  He received the “Iron-Dog” Award and received many gifts and letters from people.

Why I liked it:  There are many why one would love this story….   It has that awww  feeling.  It’s a happy every after story. Children will love this, its real and I loved that at the back there are a newspaper clipping and some letters/telegrams from well wishes.  Herbert certainly touched the hearts of many.  There is also a pic of his award medal and certificate, also a loving acknowledgement to the people who were involved back then.  It’s also hard to believe it happened back in 1986.  Had Ellen Degenerus’s show been on, I am sure she would have heard about it and had Herbert on her show…lol.   Another thing I liked was when I flicked through the pages a few times the illustrations reminded me of how I loved to draw as a teenager, the wispy pencil lines are a style I love.

Resources/Findings:   Here is a website with the author at the celebration of the book with some of the real characters.

A great site if you are looking for more boat books or animals on boats….’s.html

Here is a cute step by step drawing of a dog for kids…  click the  next>> button to get the next stroke……  Note also other drawings for kids on this website…. Very well done.

This book would be a great discussion book in the classroom… leading into looking at safety at sea.  Children could write their own letter to Herbert.

A great resource in teaching kids about safety in and around water….

For more books with resources please visit the lovely author Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog and find the tab for  Perfect Picture Books.    Her blog is full of resources links and activities associated with the books reviewed by many authors

About Diane Tulloch

Known also as the Patientdreamer I am a writer who loves to dream, and is passionate about writing stories for the young so that they may join me in the wonders of adventure in countries and cultures afar, and in special moments to remember.
This entry was posted in Picture Book Review, Reading Aloud and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

25 Responses to Perfect Picture Book – Friday

  1. Cathy Ballou Mealey says:

    I’d love to read this book! I didn’t know the story and it sounds so heart-warming.

    I was shocked to read in the link that Herbert went on to live with his rescuer, Mr. Sonneland, rather than returning to his first owner, 10 year old Tim!

    Great PPBF choice!

    • Hi Cathy, yes it is a lovely story. Actually they don’t say why he ended up with Mr Sonneland, but my thoughts are that either Tims family moved away from Nelson and therefore thought it best to leave him with the Rescurer or that maybe Tim left Nelson altogether and lived somewhere else to further his schooling. Something we shall never know I guess. I believe he did stay with Tim at first when he returned. At least I like to think so.

  2. Catherine Johnson says:

    I did hear that story, it’s a great idea to have a book about it. Kids will love that!

    • Isn’t it a great story Catherine. Yep kids will definately love this and such a great introduction on safety discussions in and around water to. Or any adventures on the seas. Thanks for your comment.

  3. Darlene says:

    I must get a copy of this book. My Dad’s name was herbert and my brother’s was Tim. (both no longer with us). My grandchildren love dogs too and a true story from New Zealand would be perfect as I encourage them to read about other countries. Thanks for pointing this book out to us! XO from Canada.

    • LOL…. cool your Dad having the same name, what a coincidence your brother being Tim.. so pleased to hear someone mention that they encourage their children to read about other countries…. that is wonderful!
      I came across a bunch of American school teachers way, way back some years ago on a tour through Europe and they said the only discussion they have with their class kids is the connection between the USA and other countries like New Zealand, was mainly about export and import and politics… blah! I felt it very strange that they did not want to know anything about the culture, weather, people…. etc… Mind you that was years and years ago…. hopefully its changed now.

      • Darlene says:

        I just ordered Herbert the Brave Sea Dog for my grandson’s birthday. I’ll let you know what he thinks of it. One of the reason’s I write about other countries is so that children will learn about the food, climate, culture people etc. Now I need to visit New Zealand so I can write an Amanda story where she has an adventure there!

  4. Just put it on hold – thanks!

  5. This is the first time I heard the story of Herbert. I love books based on true stories. He sounds like he earned the name of “Iron Dog.” What a lovely choice Diane. Like your resources too!

    • Thankyou so much Pat. Yes I am loving the historical fiction stories that are popping up now… There is such a depth and a learning with these sort of stories…. heres hoping it is a popular trend….. lol.

  6. Stacy S. Jensen says:

    I love adventure stories, especially with a hero. Our four-legged friends are always a treat to read about.

  7. Excellent resources for a very interesting book, Diane! I wonder why Herbert went on to live with his rescuer? Maybe a sequel is needed!

    • mmm… sequel… now there’s a thought! One can speculate many reasons. My thoughts are that he probably did stay with Tim at first but then Tim had to go elsewhere to further his education and career prospects. Nelson I know is only a very small town, in camparison to my city. Maybe the family shifted to the big city… who knows.!

  8. Julie says:

    Aww, I love true-life dog stories. My kids loved a recent pick of mine – Baltic – Dog Lost at Sea, so I think they would like this one too. Great choice!

  9. Thankyou Julie. I am sure your kids would love it then. Enjoy…. and thanks.

  10. This looks like a truely amazing book and dog! I am surprised Herbert swam 30 hours! I can only swim for a couple of minutes before tiring. I have to check this book out!
    P.S. I have something funny to tell you! When I clicked on the how to draw a dog link, the page is titled, “How to Draw a Dog”, but it then tells you how to draw… a pig…at least I think it’s a pig. It has a snout and it’s pink 🙂

    • LOL… Oh my, sorry about that Erik, for some unknown reason it had got stuck on the next picture, although I was able to do other pics on the website. Anyway I managed to clear it and reattached the link with the dog picture for you to try. Have fun! and thankyou for bringing it to my attention. Glad you liked the book, it is a great story. Enjoy my friend.

  11. I hadn’t heard about this book or the story of Herbert. 30 hours…Totally amazing!! I’m really looking forward to finding this and reading it.

  12. What a heartwarming story! My students love animal survival stories, and I know that they would love this one. Thank you for sharing! 🙂

  13. Pingback: An interview and review from down under « Darlene Foster's Blog

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