Book Review: The Story of Ferdinand

Rating: ★★★★★

Ferdinand is a mild-mannered Spanish bull who (unlike his peers) has no aspirations to be chosen for a big bullfight in Madrid.  Instead, “he like[s] to sit just quietly and smell the flowers.”  But one day, when five men come to his pasture to choose a bull for the bullfight, Ferdinand sits on a bee, provoking him to act so crazy that the men choose him for the next bullfight.  When he arrives in the arena, he has to decide whether he will give in to the pressure to perform.

The story is rendered in charming ink drawings and is exceptionally well written.  The author makes gentle fun of the strutting bravado displayed by of the bullfight’s participants, while Ferdinand’s gentle response displays a unique kind of courage.  Some parents will see this story as a treatise against the violence and cruelty of bullfights, while others will view it as an example of someone being true to himself.  However you interpret it, this is an undeniably hilarious story that has been loved by children since its first publication in 1936.

It is fairly accessible to older toddlers and will also be enjoyed by early readers.  Since its original printing, a color version has become available, but some of the pictures are missing, and the blotchy quality obscures the detail in the ink drawings, so I prefer the black-and-white version.

Pronunciation for Spanish words may be heard and viewed by clicking the links: Matador, Picador, Banderillero.

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Publication Information: Leaf, Munro. Story of Ferdinand, The. Lawson, Robert (Illustrator). Puffin. 1936. ISBN: 0142409529.
Categories: 5 Stars, Age 00-04, Amblesideonline, Book Tree, Books That Build Character,, Honey For a Child's Heart, NEH Summertime Favorites, Read-Aloud Handbook, World Books That Show, World Nifty 50
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Posted on June 13, 2010

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