Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Shadow of a Bull” as Want to Read:
Shadow of a Bull
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Shadow of a Bull

3.55  ·  Rating details ·  4,625 ratings  ·  237 reviews
Manolo Olivar was the son of his father. Which may not seem like a necessary thing to say. But in Manolo's case it is. For his father had been Juan Olivar, the greatest bullfighter in all Spain. And Manolo was his son in two special ways: one, he looked just like his father; and two, everyone expected that he, Manolo Olivar, would repeat the success of his father, would be ...more
Paperback, 160 pages
Published June 1st 2007 by Aladdin Paperbacks (first published 1964)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.55  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,625 ratings  ·  237 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Shadow of a Bull
Mar 13, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shadow Of A Bull is a well-written Newbery Medal winner. The book was recommended by a teacher who had read it to her class.

I enjoyed Maia Wojciechowska's writing style.

"The town, suddenly, like a spring gushing from under a rock, flowed into song. The guitars began a race; the tambourines of the gypsies joined in; and the castanets, like a million clattering hoofs, lent their beat." (p. 60)

"They listened to the quarrels that erupted like brush fires and died as suddenly as they started." (p.
Benji Martin
May 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
*This review contains spoilers!*

This book is really, really good. I usually spend a good amount of time during these reviews going back and forth on why or why not the title we’re discussing is or isn’t Newbery worthy. I’m not going to do that this time. There’s no question that Shadow of a Bull is distinguished and award-worthy. I love how compact the story is. It’s a novel about growing up, becoming a man, facing fears and finding identity all packed into 150 pages. There’s plenty in there
Phil Jensen
Oct 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
BULLFIGHTING!is the setting of this book, but not the topic. The topic is a rich, nuanced look at patrimony, heritage, honor, courage, and your duty to community expectations. Wojciechowska is not concerned with debating ethics and animal cruelty; she is only interested in bullfighting as a backdrop to her story about a boy's decision on how to be brave and how to spend his life.

That being said, this book is a wealth of information about the art and culture of bullfighting. If you are disgusted
There was a nice little story in here about bravery and learning to live the one's own life versus the one others expect, but the truth is, I'm never going to enjoy a book about bullfighting.
Jun 06, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: newbery-medal
Learned a lot about bull fighting but it reads a little like a textbook in the first half in that you have to keep flipping to the glossary at the back for an explanation of italicized terms. Throughout the book the author glorified the artistry of bull fighting without addressing the downside.

"...when bullfighting began to develop in Spain, it was a pastime for the noblemen only. Through careful breeding, the bulls developed their extraordinary bravery which is completely lacking in all species
Alexa SOF2014
Sep 09, 2009 rated it liked it
Shadow of a Bull by Maia Wojciechowska takes place in the province of Andalusia, southern Spain, which is characterized by "majestic mountains, lacey olive groves, the round symmetry of the bullrings, and the pointed church steeples. Manolo Oliver is the son of the greatest matador in Spain, Juan Oliver, who was killed by a bull and is expected to someday follow in his fathers footsteps but there is one problem. Manolo does not want to be a bullfighter and is afraid of bulls. Unfortunately for ...more
Tyrice Brown
Mar 10, 2013 rated it liked it
My opinion about the story was good because it has a lot of surprises and it was also very entertaining.
What I have learned in this story is that you can't live up with expectations of other people.

You have to know what you want in your life and do the best you can in order for you to fulfil your dreams
and ambitions in life however knowing what you want is not easy you need to have a strong determination to be successful. In order for you to be successful you have to give it a try to do
Natalie Feliciano
I read this book when I was younger and loved it. The main point of the book was that there was a boy who was expected to follow in his father's footsteps as a bullfighter but he's afraid of bulls and doesn't want to fight them. This book is a great way to show kids that they don't have to do what others expect of them to do and that they should always do what their heart tells them to do. This book also gave a lot of Spanish culture which will introduce kids to other cultures which they may not ...more
Brooke Scott
Mar 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
I would recommend this book to someone that was interested in heritage of spanish bullfighting. It was very moving about a boy and his fathers death and the love they had. A male audience young and old would like this book. The title is appropriate but can be misleading in a way that you may think that the main character may be a bull. I felt sorrow for the main character to find strength because he had to struggle between what he felt in his heart and what his family felt was right for him. I ...more
Jun 29, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own
Only three discs long on audio book. So very, very good. It's recommended for 10 and older. I'm not sure if it is because it describes a bull fight and that might be considered too intense for younger readers/listeners or if because some of the subtleties of the story might be lost on younger kids. In either case, it is an excellent book, well deserving of the Newbery. I highly recommend this one.
Fantastic! This is another book about a boy who fears he is a great coward and rises above his fears. I think I loved this book even more that others in this genre because he didn't do what I expected and I think what he did do showed even more courage.

"You cannot confuse bravery and courage with lack of fear. Real courage, true bravery, is doing things in spite of fear, knowing fear."
Mar 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Upon reflection, I decided to bump this up to 4 stars.
Overall it was an interesting book because it showed the life of a bullfighter.
You can tell that Wojciechowska knows all there is to know on bullfighting and she incorporates it into the story very well. With the added glossary I never felt lost or confused and ended up learning a lot of how the practice of bullfighting works.
The story focuses on a young boy who's father was a incredibly famous bullfighter in his town. He was so popular that
Andrew Z
Feb 07, 2015 rated it did not like it
Andrew Zerby

Form I (Orange)

Core Reading


In Shadow of a Bull by Maia Wojciechowska, the author’s main message is that a person does not have to be what everyone else expects them to be. The reader comes to understand about human nature is that it is hard for a person to resist being what everybody expects them to be. This book take place in the small town of Arcangel(I dont know if it exists even though i looked on the internet) in Andalucia, Spain. The main character is Manolo Olivar, a
Jennifer Mangler
I really loathe bullfighting and only chose to read this book because it won the Newbery. I liked Manolo, but I didn't find great parts of the book very engaging. So much of the book was like a textbook on bullfighting. The parts that didn't deal directly with that were the only parts I liked.
I found this book went by slow until I got to the end. I was worried that I wasn't going to like the ending a all but then the ending came to be what I liked.
Sohum P.
Oct 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shadow Of A bull was a very interesting book. In the book it shows examples of honesty and other life principles. I recommend it to everyone
“The Birth of a Toreador”

At the young age of 12 Manolo Olivar is battling his private demons; he Knows he is not brave—that he lacks the courage, skill and AFICION to face down bulls the way his famous, dead, father, Juan Olivar, did with bravado. The region of Andalusia in Spain, near the Guadalquivir River, boasts having bestowed a famous bullfighter on all Spain. But his father’s famous destiny was prophesied at his birth by an old gypsy woman; the man, who died at 22, barely had time to be
Khalil Abebreseh
Aug 14, 2012 rated it liked it
I liked this book because it was very entertaining and it was all about decisions and identity.For example, the town of Arcangel idolized and loved Manolo's father Juan Olivar.This is evident when townspeople are having a conversation and saying,"His was the longest nose in Spain.""Why shouldn't it have been? He was the bravest.And in a (torero) a long nose means bravery,"(4). This shows that the people of Arcangel loved Juan Olivar as a bullfighter and they admired him in death as much as in ...more
Cara Wilson
Shadow of a Bull by Maya Wojciechowska, 1964
Cara W., Spring 2015

Shadow of a Bull is the story of the child of a matador who was killed by a bull in Spain. The main character Manolo is expected to become a bullfighter himself (being a famous bullfighter's son) but does not have any interest while his friend Juan does (but nobody is giving him a chance).

The story follows Manolo on his way on finding himself and what he wants. He continually is asking himself what is important to him and he
Oct 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: newbery
This woman with the most Polish name I have ever known submerges us completely into the masculine culture of Spain and the “toreo,” the art of bullfighting.

Maia Wojciechowska also makes us feel the emotional suffering that Manolo, the young hero of the story, felt more each year until he was eleven because he believed he was a coward, and not worthy to be his dead father’s son. Manolo did not have “aficion” for bullfighting as his heroic father had, and the author made me grieve and worry for
Mr. Kovach
Jan 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book! Is about a boy growing up in a small town in Spain. His father was a famous bullfighter who the town reveres in death as they did during his life. It is their fervent hope that the boy in the story will grow up to be the next great bullfighter in the town. They treat him like a celebrity and take care of his Mom and him. They loved his father so much that EVERY person in the town lined up, carried a brick to the center of town, and one by one laid them down until they built a ...more
Dec 30, 2013 added it
50 1965: Shadow of a Bull by Maia Wojciechowska (Atheneum)

7/3/2013 (155 pages)

Manolo is the son of a famous bullfighter who died fighting a bull when Manolo was only 3. Ever since, his village has looked forward to the day when Manolo can take his father's place in the bull ring. Manolo is conflicted about the plan.

He discovers that his best friend's brother wants to do the very thing that he does not really want to do. In the end, he is able to make the best decision for himself.

"It was indeed
(B) Archer at KIPP
Mar 06, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommended to (B) Archer by: Jorge Cruz
Shelves: boys-have-read
The book Shadow of a Bull was good because you meet a kid from Spain named Manolo that is 13 or so, he also looks like his father at a very young age. Whose father is a professional bull fighter, but when a horrible thing happened that one day. Manolo’s father dies to a horn in the gut or something. Then you also learn how the son of a bull fighter has to go threw to live up to his father's name. Also he has to fulfill he’s destiny to become a professional bullfighter like his father was.
Jan 09, 2009 rated it really liked it
I was not thrilled to read the explicit descriptions of what occurs in a bull fight. However, it was a valuable read to come to a better cultural idea of what is behind this practice. The story is a wonderful example to young readers of the necessity of being brave enough to be yourself and not what others expect you to be. Here is the central message of the book (and my favorite passage:

"The fate of a brave animal should never be anything but a noble death after a noble fight. But it is not the
Feb 10, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shadow if a Bull tells the story of a young boy who is the son of a famous bullfighter. Everyone in his town expects him to follow in his father's footsteps. He has no memory of his father since he was very small when his father was killed in a bullfight. I liked this story and felt that it really gave an excellent lesson in the bullfighting. However, I only gave it two stars because I felt that it was not very well written for the intended age. It was a Newbery winner, but it is very dry for a ...more
May 18, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shadow of a Bull by Maia Wojciechowska has always seemed to be one of the least popular Newbery Winners, and so I’ve not been in a rush to read it. I enjoyed the book thoroughly, though, finding it to be a satisfying and meaningful story.

Shadow of a Bull is about Manolo. Manolo’s father was the greatest bullfighter in Spain, though he died tragically young. His whole community expects Manolo, as he reaches the age of twelve, to step into his father’s shoes and fight a bull. Manolo, however, is
The other John
This one's the tale of a matador in the making. Manolo Olivar is nine years old, the son of a famous bullfighter who was killed when Manolo was three. Everybody in his town is expecting him to follow in his father's footsteps, to bring glory back to his community. A group of bullfighting experts take him under their collective wing and start preparing him for his first match, to be held when he's twelve--just like his father. The question is, does Manolo want to be like his father? To the book's ...more
Feb 18, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: young-adult
Manolo's father is the most famed matador (bullfighter) in all of Spain. When he is killed during one of his matches, it is up to the young child to live up to his father's legacy. However, Manolo has no taste for the sport. He is not only afraid to face the powerful animals that are capable of killing a man, even one as brave as his father, the idea of having to kill the animals in the name of sport repels him. Thus ensues a struggle between a young man and a destiny which he seems unwittingly ...more
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
A book about bullfighting seems like the last book I would want to read, but Shadow of a Bull is not just a book about bullfighting. Shadow of a Bull is a rich book about the trials of being the son of a hero, a book about the struggles of a boy trying to find his own way in a world that is attempting to force him to take a path the boy does not want to take. Manolo is the son of a magnificent bullfighter. When Manolo's father is killed in the ring, the people look to Manolo to become the man ...more
Jan 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: newbery-books
A book about bullfighting seems like the last book I would want to read, but Shadow of a Bull is not just a book about bullfighting. Shadow of a Bull is a rich book about the trials of being the son of a hero, a book about the struggles of a boy trying to find his own way in a world that is attempting to force him to take a path the boy does not want to take. Manolo is the son of a magnificent bullfighter. When Manolo’s father is killed in the ring, the people look to Manolo to become the man ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Up a Road Slowly
  • It's Like This, Cat
  • I, Juan de Pareja
  • Secret of the Andes
  • Amos Fortune, Free Man
  • Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze
  • Smoky the Cow Horse
  • The Trumpeter of Krakow
  • Adam of the Road
  • Invincible Louisa: The Story of the Author of Little Women
  • The Matchlock Gun
  • A Gathering of Days: A New England Girl's Journal, 1830-32
  • Miracles on Maple Hill
  • The Cat Who Went to Heaven
  • Onion John
  • Roller Skates
  • M.C. Higgins, the Great
  • Thimble Summer
See similar books…
Maia Wojciechowska was born in Warsaw, Poland in 1927, and later lived in France and England. Eventually, her family moved to the United States.

A writer of books for young readers, in 1964 Maia Wojciechowska wrote the book "Shadow of a Bull", which was named the Newbery Medal winner in 1965.

In 2002 she died of a stroke in Long Beach, New Jersey. She was seventy-four years old.