The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf

ferdinandReview of The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf

I celebrated the Freedom to Read for the 2013 ALA Banned Book Week by reading this selection. Yes, it is a short children’s picture book, but I was knee deep in other reads this year, but still wanted to read a banned book.

So why was this book banned you ask?

When this book was originally published in 1936 world leaders that would become well known in history were already in place. Hitler (socialist) was Chancellor and Head of State in Germany, Mussolini (fascist) was Prime Minister of Italy, Stalin (communist) was the Communist Party Leader and Francisco Franco (nationalist) was a General in the nationalist faction in Spain.  These leaders saw the subject matter of the book as being an affront to their beliefs. Munro Leaf was an American writer, however, he had chosen to set this book in Spain. Politically, this was not a climate for his book to be well received overseas. History will tell us in 1936 the Spanish Civil War began just a few months after publication and Hitler’s Third Reich was already in power in Germany. At the time Francisco Franco was a General, but his party’s opposition was strong enough to catapult Spain into civil war and he went on to become the Head of Spanish State in 1939.  The Spanish Nationalist saw this book as supporting pacifism and banned it, while Hilter called it degenerate propaganda and had it burned, he was also a supporter of Franco’s Nationalist movement.

What exactly is this book about?

Being that is a short read I won’t give away too much. Ferdinand is a young bull, he doesn’t wish to partake in the rough horseplay that his brothers do all day. He would rather sit under a cork tree and enjoy life.

Be sure to enjoy the illustrations in the book, as they are fairly accurate for the area. Munro Leaf actually wrote this book for his friend Robert Lawson to illustrate. Lawson was in need of somewhere to showcase his work.

Title: The Story of Ferdinand
Author: Munro Leaf
Publisher: Puffin Books (1977)
Source: Personal Library
Format Read: Paperback: ISBN 978-0140502343
Genres/Subjects: Fiction, Children’s, Picture Book

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