The Story of Ferdinand

Last updated Monday, June 20, 2011

Author: Munro Leaf
Date of Publication: 1936
ISBN: 9780670013234
Grade Level: 2nd    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Jul. 2011

Synopsis: What else can be said about the fabulous Ferdinand? Published more than 50 years ago (and one of the bestselling children's books of all time), this simple story of peace and contentment has withstood the test of many generations. Ferdinand is a little bull who much prefers sitting quietly under a cork tree-- just smelling the flowers--to jumping around, snorting, and butting heads with other bulls. This cow is no coward--he simply has his pacifist priorities clear. As Ferdinand grows big and strong, his temperament remains mellow, until the day he meets with the wrong end of a bee. In a show of bovine irony, the one day Ferdinand is most definitely not sitting quietly under the cork tree (due to a frightful sting), is the selfsame day that five men come to choose the "biggest, fastest, roughest bull" for the bullfights in Madrid.

Ferdinand's day in the arena gives readers not only an education in the historical tradition of bullfighting, but also a lesson in nonviolent tranquility. Robert Lawson's black-and-white drawings are evocative and detailed, with especially sweet renditions of Ferdinand, the serene bull hero. The Story of Ferdinand closes with one of the happiest endings in the history of happy endings--readers of all ages will drift off to a peaceful sleep, dreaming of sweet-smelling flowers and contented cows.

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  Vocabulary
•  Loathsome
•  Butt as in butt their heads together
•  Bull/Bull Fighting
•  Picadores
•  Banderilleros

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  Do you like to be with someone or by yourself?
•  What is bull fighting? Have you ever heard of bull fighting? Where do they do bull fighting?
•  Do you ever want to do different things from other kids?
•  Where does the book take place?
•  What do you do when you're frustrated?

Craft ideas:
•  Research bee/flower activities
•  Origami?
•  Bull horns

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don’t have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!