Title: The Story of Ferdinand
Author(s): Munro Leaf
Illustrator/Photographer: Robert Lawson
Publisher and Year: Scholastic Inc., 1936
Number of pages: 68
Tags/Themes: Colleen Swanson, Diversity, Family, Spanish, Social Science, Individuality, K-5, 6-8, Animals, Culture, Fiction
Genre: Fiction, Fable
Descriptive Annotation: This story takes place in Spain and follows a bull named Ferdinand. He is unlike the other bulls he has grown up with because Ferdinand does not like to fight with other bulls; he instead likes to smell flowers under a cork tree. One day five men from Madrid come to select the strongest and roughest bull to compete in the bullfight. Ferdinand is stung by bee and appears to be extremely ferocious, thus the men decide to take Ferdinand to the Madrid bullfight. Once in the bull ring, Ferdinand sat down smells the flowers in the crowd and did not fight the matadors, picadores, or banderillos at all. The men then took Ferdinand home where he returned to his cork tree.
The illustrations in this story, created by Robert Lawson, are black and white drawings. Each image is extremely detailed and brings the story, especially Ferdinand, to life. The Spanish culture in beautifully represented in the story through the depiction of the bull ring, matador, picadores, and bandarillos.
If this story is being used to teach about the bull fights in Spain then some prior knowledge would benefit readers greatly. Students would specifically benefit from learning about the deep history surrounding the bullfights in Spain as well as the roles of the matador, picadores, banderillos, and the bull in the actual fights.
Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis: Within this text, cultural and linguistic diversity are celebrated greatly. Specifically, this story looks at the Spanish custom of bull fighting. During the story, the members of the bullfight are introduced in their traditional Spanish names of matador, picadores, and banderillos. While the text does not talk in depth about the roles of these people the controversy surrounding the bull fighting tradition, the text does introduce readers to a part of the Spanish culture. This text would most likely generate many discussion and questions among students surrounding the Spanish culture and bull fighting.
Interdisciplinary Connections: I would use this book concurrently with other subject areas in my classroom. For example, in a Social Studies class when learning about different cultures, this text would be a great resource to introduce students to one of the most sacred Spanish traditions: bullfighting. This book would also be useful in a Spanish class to also talk about the culture, heritage, and customs of old Spain. Finally, in the upper grades I can see this text a resource in a Language Arts classroom were students read texts on bull fighting and create a written piece either in favor or against the bull fighting custom in Spain.
Other Information: This is one of my favorite books of all time. My mom read me this book when I was very little and it is a story and message that has stuck with me throughout my life. Along with introducing me to the Spanish culture, this book also taught me that being different from everyone else is ok. Like Ferdinand, I did not have to act and mimic all my friends and peers interests. I could be and do whatever made me happy, even if that meant smelling flowers under a cork tree. I believe this message will really resonate with many young children thus this is a story that will continue to reach generation after generation.