Brad's Reviews > The Story of Ferdinand

The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf
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's review
Dec 24, 11

bookshelves: about-violence, bedtime-book, children, pb-and-j-dipped-in-hot-chocolate, personal-mythology, read-to-bronte, read-to-milos, read-to-scoutie
Read from December 17 to 22, 2011, read count: 100s

Many of the kids books I've been revisiting are filled with specific, vivid memories of my childhood that are almost narratives unto themselves. Reading them transports me back to those (probably apocryphal) moments in my brain, leaving me full of a sort of joyful melancholy for things past and a hunger for more of those memories, a desire to relive all those locked up personal stories, so I grab another book I have always loved and devour it looking for more.

I didn't find those memories in The Story of Ferdinand, but I may have found something more precious.

I found that this story, with its beautiful illustrations and its little bull turned big bull who just wants to live peacefully and smell his flowers, made me think about people I care about rather than remembering some synapsy tale of them.

It made me think of my mother, Chris. I always called her "Chris," which drove my father crazy because of how "disrespectful" it was. I thought of Chris and guessed that she probably read this book to me first. And I thought of how every book I touch and word I write is her gift to me, for teaching me too read, then teaching me to challenge myself with books that were "inappropriate," then sharing our reading when we were older.

It made me think of my cousin, Fred, who I called Ferdinand behind his back. I thought of his moustache and 80s hair. I thought of how we both had brutally abusive fathers, but have never talked about it, even now, so many years after escaping their fists.

It made me think of K.I. Hope, and how the anger of her writing -- that wonderful, necessary, emotional, ethical rage -- would cringe at the other bulls, Ferdinand's friends and family, showing off in the hopes of travelling to Madrid to be slaughtered in the bullfights. I thought of what a true friend she is and how unlikely it is to find a genuine friend on something like this social media platform, and how I have found so many.

It made me think of Brontë and Miloš and Scoutie, and how much they love The Story of Ferdinand, and how Miloš is always trying to mimic the light Spanish accent I use to read them the book aloud, and how Brontë loves the art, and how Scoutie babbles the story back to me with her incomprehensible toddler language, punctuated by a "Ferdie-and" or "cow."

And it made me think of Munroe Leaf. She and all the other authors I've had a relationship over my life. They have been my best friends. And each book that I love ... it's a gift written by them just for me. Thanks, Munroe. I love you too.
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Comments (showing 1-10 of 10) (10 new)

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Miriam Beautiful review, Brad.

Also, I think you need to add a diacritical mark to Scoutie's name before she is old enough to read. Why is she the only one missing out?

Brad I know. Poor Scoutie. We could fake a diacritical mark in her middle name, but it would be stretching things. Her full name is Katya Gwendolyn Scout. But everyone took to calling her Scoutie (although I call her Kitty Kat all the time). Can you think of a good place to add one, Miriam?

And thanks for the compliment too.

message 3: by Larry (new)

Larry Bassett Thank you for reminding me of Ferdinand! I bought a copy a long time ago from the War Resisters League. Now there is the 75th anniversary edition.

Brad Seriously?! I had no idea it was 75 years old. I may have to get that anniversary edition for my kids to have when they're my age. Thank, Larry.

message 5: by Miriam (last edited Dec 24, 2011 10:41AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Miriam Her full name is Katya Gwendolyn Scout. But everyone took to calling her Scoutie (although I call her Kitty Kat all the time). Can you think of a good place to add one

Not really, not unless one of those is pronounced in a non-standard way. Maybe she could have a metal umlaut over the a in Kitty Kät.

Brad I love that idea! I am going to start doing that when I write to her. Fun.

Miriam I think it looks cure that way -- ä looks a bit like a little animal.

message 8: by Caris (new)

Caris Great review, Brad. This was my favorite book for a very long time. It's one of the few I haven't bought for my daughter because I'm genuinely frightened it won't live up to memory. Maybe I'll give it a chance...

Brad I hope it does for you, Caris. It holds up for me.

message 10: by mark (new)

mark monday wonderful review

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