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The Story of Ferdinand Paperback – March 31, 2011
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"Warlight" by Michael Ondaatje
A dramatic coming-of-age story set in the decade after World War II, "Warlight" is the mesmerizing new novel from the best-selling author of "The English Patient." Pre-order today
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About the Author
Wilbur Monroe Leaf (aka Munro Leaf) (1905–1976) is an American author of children's literature who wrote and illustrated many books during his long career. His books were illustrated by a number of famous artists, including Ludwig Bemelmans, Robert Lawson, and Theodor Seuss Geisel (Dr. Seuss). He is best known for The Story of Ferdinand (1936).
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The result has the same relationship with the original as an orange peel has to an orange -- the color and shape remain, but all the juice has been squeezed out.
If you care at all about quality, find your kid a copy of the Viking edition instead. Borrow it from a library if you must. But stay far away from this edition unless-and-until the publisher fires the imbecile who decided to release this ersatz "classic" and brings back the original as it was meant to be read and enjoyed.
From what I've read, bullfighting is steeped in Hispanic identity in many parts of the world, considered more of a cultural event - a highly ritualized art form rather than a bloodsport. I must say that for me personally, though it's important to respect each culture's heritage, I would never have purchased a book about bullfighting - especially for our grandsons! But that is NOT what this book is about... as I read it, it is much more about resisting conforming to what's seen as the being the "norm" if it goes against who you are, regardless of what others say or do to provoke you or attempt to force you into submission. I'd read enough about the book to know that the majority of it centered around the peaceful nature of Ferdinand (only three pages reference what I consider the gruesome progression of torture a bull experiences in the ring - the Banderilleros with long sharp pins, the Picadores with long spears, and the Matador with his sword), with that innate peacefulness being what spares him.
This is certainly not a book most children these days will be used to, with its completely black and white illustrations, but - for the right age - a child who's ready to focus more on a story line versus needing lots of bright colors to hold his/her attention, the illustrations do a beautiful job of reflecting the gentleness of Ferdinand, who much prefers to "sit just quietly and smell the flowers" while the other bulls run and jump around, butting heads, and his wise mother who - though occasionally worried about him and what he may face by not conforming to the norm - understood that he was happy. When some men come to pick "the biggest, fastest, roughest bull" to fight in Madrid, Ferdinand accidentally sits on a bee, which of course stings him, and his resulting puffing, snorting, butting and pawing catches the eye of the men, who bring him to Madrid. But after entering the ring, Ferdinand simply runs to the middle of the ring and sits down, quite content to just enjoy the smell of the flowers in all of the female attendees' hair - most certainly not the type of bull they wanted for a fight, so they take Ferdinand back home... where "He is very happy."
My take from the book is that it's true message is the power of peace.
I wanted to purchase this book as a gift for a friend's son, and I was delighted to see the hardcover version available on Prime for under $10! Wow, what a deal! Too good to be true? Well, yes.
The first thing I noticed as I removed the plastic wrap was a sticker on the dust jacket promoting the movie "Ferdinand" which is a contemporary, digitally animated fluff version of the original classic. I was really aggravated by that. I'm primarily irritated that film companies seem to infiltrate absolutely everything we do in life, taking up ad space in the usual places, but also all over household goods like water bottles, underwear, t-shirts, etc., etc. so I go out of my way not to purchase those things when I have the option to purchase something that is just what it is: a back pack that is JUST a back pack or a pencil eraser that is JUST an eraser and nothing else. Of course I have seen movie advertisements on books before, but the sticker is not in the Amazon listing picture for the hardcover version, so I didn't expect it. Luckily for me, because it was the dust jacket, I was able to remove the jacket and put it in the recycling and hopefully it will get recycled into something more worth humanity's time.
The second thing I noticed was the strange layout of the text and pictures. It doesn't seem like what I remember. I'm uploading a few pictures so you can see what I'm talking about and compare it to other customer pictures. I don't have the original format available to make a direct comparison, unfortunately, but the new layout is just too FUNCTIONAL, it doesn't have the delight of the original. The original's atmosphere made you feel like you were present in the fields with Ferdinand as he enjoyed the slow simplicity of his life. This one is like peering out of a window to see him from afar. I think these details are important for a child's experience of the story.
I can't help but think that the illustrations and layout were adjusted to make the cost of printing lower, so that more parents would be willing to buy it, expose their kids to the touching story that is "Ferdinand" and then buy the movie (which itself mutilates the simplicity and historicity of the original story and uses cheap humor to keep the audience watching a full-length film) (yes, I watched the trailer to see what they did with the story, so I guess the film studio wins on that one).
"Ferdinand" is great children's literature, and literature is about what is good, true and beautiful. This story has been abused by what is vulgar, deceptive and ugly for the sake of making a few extra dollars. I'm going to give this as a gift because I have a limited budget and I'm not sure I can buy something else before my friends' party (though I wish I could), but you can bet that when I buy my own kids "Ferdinand" this Christmas, I'll be buying a used, classic version.