The Small One is a Christmas short film that was released on December 16, 1978, accompanying a re-release of Pinocchio. Directed by Don Bluth, the short takes place in Nazareth and tells the tale of a young boy and his beloved donkey, Small One, which he is forced to sell, but wants to give it a good place to go, eventually selling it to Joseph and Mary as transportation to Bethlehem. The story is based on a children's book by Charles Tazewell.
Outside of the city of Nazareth, a young boy and his father own four donkeys. Three of these donkeys are young and strong. The fourth donkey, Small One, is old and weak, but the boy loves him anyway. Everyday, the boy and the donkey play together before they go to work, helping the boy's father to collect wood.
The boy and his father take the donkeys to work one morning, as they always do. Many times, the boy loads Small One with small sticks, since Small One can't carry heavy loads any more. Small One even has trouble carrying stacks of small sticks and the boy helps to carry them for him.
That evening, the boy's father tells the boy that he has to sell Small One. Devastated, but understanding, the boy asks if he can be the one to sell his best friend. The father agrees and tells him that he has to sell him for one piece of silver. That night, the boy comforts Small One and promises to find him a gentle and loving master.
The next morning, the boy takes Small One to the market in Nazareth. Unfortunately, nobody wants an old weak donkey but the tanner, and he only wants to kill Small One in order to make leather out of his hide. After failing to find another buyer, the boy and his donkey return to the tanner's shop. The boy weeps, and Small One, accepting his fate under the tanner's knife, tenderly consoles the boy.
Just as everything looks bleak, a kind man comes up to the boy and asks if Small One is for sale. The man is none other than Joseph, who needs a gentle donkey to carry his pregnant wife to Bethlehem. The boy sells the donkey for one piece of silver (the same price the boy's father agreed upon) and watches as the couple and Small One leave on their journey as a bright star appears in the sky.
- The Small One (voiced by Clarence Nash)
- Boy (voiced by Sean Marshall)
- Father (voiced by Olan Soule)
- Three Merchants (voiced by The Mellomen)
- Auctioneer (voiced by Hal Smith)
- The Tanner (voiced by William Woodson): He kills animals to make leather from their skins.
- The Three Donkeys (voiced by Clarence Nash): Small One's barn mates. They seem jealous that the boy spends more time with Small One than them.
- Joseph (voiced by Gordon Jump)
- Mary: You only see the silhouette of her riding on Small One, with Joseph leading him away, towards Bethlehem.
- Roman Soldier (voiced by Joe Higgins)
- The Potter (voiced by Thurl Ravenscroft)
- The Baker (voiced by Ken Sansom)
Home video releases
- The Small One
- Walt Disney Mini Classics: The Small One
A Christmas Miracle and Mickey's Christmas Carol
Countdown to Christmas
- Walt Disney's Classic Cartoon Favorites: Classic Holiday Stories
- Walt Disney Animation Collection: Classic Short Films: Mickey's Christmas Carol
- Countdown to Christmas
- Story Adaptation: Pete Young, Vance Gerry
- With the Voice Talents of Sean Marshall, William Woodson, Olan Soule, Hal Smith, Joe Higgins, Gordon Jump
- Directing Animators: John Pomeroy, Gary Goldman, Cliff Nordberg
- Animators: Lorna Pomeroy, Heidi Guedel, Linda Miller, Emily Jiuliano, Jerry Rees, Bill Hajee, Chuck Harvey, Ron Husband
- Effects Animators: Ted C. Kierscey, Dorse A. Lanpher
- Assistant Animation Supervisor: Walt Stanchfield
- Assistant Animators: Dan Kuenster, Chuck Williams
- Layout: Dan Hansen, Sylvia Roemer
- Backgrounds: Jim Coleman, Daniela Bielecka
- Storyboards: Peter Young
- Film and Sound Editing: James Melton
- Music Editor: Evelyn Kennedy
- Production Manager: Don Duckwall
- Assistant Director: Richard Rich
- Songs Writers: Richard Rich, Don Bluth
- Music Composed and Conducted by Robert F. Brunner
- Executive Producer: Ron Miller
- Produced and Directed by Don Bluth
- This is Don Bluth's directorial debut and as producer, and song writer.
- This is the last Disney animated short film to use Technicolor before moving to modern color film stock on Animated short films.