One of my top 10 favorite picture books of all time is celebrating its 75th birthday! The Story of Ferdinand was written by Munro Leaf, beautifully and comically illustrated by Robert Lawson.
There is something endearing and timeless about this well-told story with a universally common theme. I know this, not because it was first published in 1936 and is still a best-seller, beloved by countless generations, but because kids (and adults) don’t tire of it. I know I want to read it over and again; and when I haven’t read it in a while, I itch for it and have to get my Ferdinand fix.
So if you happen to be one of a handful of people who have yet to read this delightful tale, here is the lowdown… Ferdinand is a bull who is different from his peers. The repeating phrase, “But not Ferdinand,” shows just how unique he is: he doesn’t run, jump or butt heads like all the others. He is wired differently, to enjoy other things. So when an untimely sting causes Ferdinand to act atypically, he is tagged as “Ferdinand the Fierce.” He is carried off to the bull fights, feared by all the bull fighters. But Ferdinand stays happily true to who he is. Others become frustrated in their desire for a good fight… but not Ferdinand.
And if you know this story and haven’t read it in a while, perhaps it’s time to pick it up again, share it with your kids, whether they’re 18 months or 18-years-old. See new ways to apply age-old truths. Find in Ferdinand: the environmentalist, nature-lover, peacemaker, a reflective soul, a big scary guy with a kind heart, one who appreciates the simple things in life, and an individual, secure in who he is. (And when you find more, please share.)
If nothing else, pick up the book at your local library to simply enjoy a good old-fashion story.
Happy reading to you! And happy birthday to my old friend, Ferdinand!
Later publications by Scholastic