Book review, Children's Books

Book Review: The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf

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My daughters and I first read  The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf several years ago as part of our homeschool curriculum.  It was actually my first time reading the book and the girls and I all loved it.  I would definitely put it on my list of top ten favorite children’s books!

About the Book

The Story of Ferdinand was published in 1935 and in 1938 it surpassed Gone With the Wind to become the number one best seller in the United States.  It is the story of a content little bull who likes to spend his day sitting under the cork tree smelling the flowers.  After an unfortunate bee sting, during which his strength is witnessed by five men, he ends up in the center of a bullfight in Madrid.

This book has a fascinating history.  It was banned in several countries following the Spanish Civil War for promoting pacifism.  Adolf Hitler actually ordered for the book to be burned. Following the defeat of Germany during WWII, 30,000 copies of the book were published and handed out for free to promote peace in the country.  And you thought it was just a simple little kids book!

The Story of Ferdinand has continued to have quite an influence throughout the years.  It was so popular with the public in the 1930s that it was used in various commercial products, from toys to Post Toasties breakfast cereal.  You can find references to the book in Stephen King’s novel Rose Madder, in the title of a Fall Out Boy album (From Under the Cork Tree) and it was referenced in the movie The Blind Side (which I also highly recommend–love that movie).

Review of The Story of Ferdinand with links to activities related to the book.

Disney received an Oscar for it’s short film based on the book in 1938.  The cartoon really pulled on the illustrations in the book (which are all black and white) and it’s a word for word reading of the book.  It is only eight minutes in length and is worth watching!

Additional Reading and Activities

This is a great classic book that can be used to teach your kids about Spain, bullfighting, pacifism, and about just being themselves!  It is one you’ll read over and over again.
Update:  Ferdinand the movie comes out in December 2017 and I could not be more excited!
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