The Story Of Ferdinand is the story of, well, a little bull named Ferdinand, and how he is
unlike all the other bulls in Spain in that he is a gentle soul who isn’t at all interested in butting his horns into anything, let alone be picked for the ‘privilege’ of being in a bullfight. But, of course, fate being a funny thing, he ends up being chosen for exactly that.
Hence, the other fascinating aspect of this book is its matter-of-fact depiction of the famous bullfights in Madrid — describing the pomp of the spectacle and the basics of what happens in the bullring without imposing any judgement about its inherent cruelty and dangers, thus allowing readers to make the call for themselves.
The surprisingly detailed pen-and-ink illustrations — in particular, those pages depicting the streets of Madrid and the bullfighting arena — are beautifully rendered and left uncoloured, so they have a simple, old-fashioned charm, not unlike that of the book’s protagonist.
This is a book that will probably be most loved by children who are slightly introverted and/or pacifists by nature, and who can relate to Ferdinand taking pleasure in simple, quiet joys — although, anyone will be inspired by his quiet determination to just be himself, especially when this particularly bull-like stubborn streak does serve him well in the end. And, as always — note to self — it helps to have an understanding mom, too.