Monday, January 16, 2012

the Story of Ferdinand/ by Munro Leaf

Written by Munro Leaf more than 50 years ago, THE STORY OF FERDINAND is about the bull who preferred sitting under the cork tree (check out the fruit that hangs from this tree) and smelling flowers to fighting. By a freak accident (a bee sting), he ended up in the center of the bull fight ring in Madrid! But he proved to be not the "Ferdinand the Fierce" feared by the Banderilleros, Picadores and the Matador, but he brought the poor Matador to tears because he couldn't show off with his cape and sword. I especially liked Robert Lawson's absolutely perfect illustrations. There was one that took me back to a time when I did an intricate Etch-a-Sketch production of a bull fight when I was an aspiring young artist (age 10). It made me wonder if I had read Ferdinand when I was little and had tried to imitate Lawson's beautiful drawing. He wonderfully captured the facial expressions throughout the story. The concern on  Ferdinand's mother's face, the stupidity on the faces of the men who come to choose the bulls, the anxiety on the face of the bee, the wide-eyed shock and panic on Ferdinand's face when he was stung, and the hilarious snooty expressions of the matador are priceless.  The story includes a look into the old tradition of bullfighting in Spain but its mostly about the peaceful one who does not have a desire to go along with the tradition, remains true to himself and happy for it.

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Bonnie R

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