This is a picture of Smudge, my brother's stuffed-animal lamb that my mom bought at the PA Relief Sale years ago and dyed black (as well as the wool would take the dye). Smudge was based upon Little Lost Lamb, by Golden MacDonald (a.k.a. Margaret Wise Brown), illustrated by Leonard Wisegard. The link is to the Japanese edition.
When my mom misplaced her copy of Little Lost Lamb after moving across the country, I searched for a reasonably priced copy for her and ordered it. However, it went missing when I went on vacation, despite the vacation hold notice. I did all I could to locate the package, and even though the post office was sure it had gone back to the sender, the tracking information indicated that there was a good chance it was still in Seattle. Several days ago, our new postal carrier presented me with the package, which the previous mail carrier had tucked away in his truck during my vacation. Thus far, USPS has always given me a happy ending.
Even if you've never read the book, you know the story:
"High in the mountains where the green grass ends and the snow begins, the shepherd was singing.
Below him in the green grass huddled the sheep-- a great gray moving field of young lambs with their mothers. And in all that soft flock of moving gray was one little black smudge.
It was the black sheep born in every flock. A sweet little black lamb kicking up his stiff young legs-- leaping with the gray lambs in the small dances of baby animals."
The little black sheep goes wandering off, but,
"For all the the little black sheep cared, it was the sheep and the shepherd who were lost."
The shepherd boy must bring the sheep home, but a storm comes on, and the shepherd goes back out to look for his lost sheep. He finds the sheep, who never knew he was lost to begin with. The shepherd sings,
"Oh, wind, blow softly over my sheep
Away from the lion
And over the lamb
Over the grasses
And pointed flowers
Oh, wind, blow softly out of the blue
Over the white
And the black sheep too.
That is the story of Little Lost Lamb, by Golden MacDonald. In many ways, it is the story of my youngest brother, too, who died on August 8, 2003. I think of him often. This anniversary did not sting like the others. I will always feel his loss, but it's not as sharp as it was the first seven years.
Note to readers: Sometimes people contact me to ask if I will scan for them the pages of an out-of-print book I own. For liability reasons, I cannot honor those requests. If you're looking for a particular copy of an out-of-print book, I will do my best to look with you.