The Story of Ferdinand

As I begin packing my suitcase for an 8 day road trip through Spain, I thought I’d revisit an old favorite whose setting is my destination: The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf.


I remember being introduced to this book (one of the bestselling children’s books of all time) when I was in college – in my Children’s Lit class.    I don’t remember the details of WHY I fell in love – but I know WHO stole my heart…Ferdinand.  His joy and contentment captivated me.   He made me smile.   As a result of a series of events (a bee sting) he is chosen for the full fights in Mardrid.  Why?  Because he is the “biggest, fastest, roughest bull” of all!

The day of the bullfight is incredible, with flying flags, bands playing, and lovely ladies with flowers in their hair. The parade into the bullring includes the Banderilleros, the Picadores, the Matador and then comes the bull.

Ferdinand is a dear story that will have appeal simply for its humor and for its happy ending.

There are those who considered The Story of Ferdinand to have a political agenda since it was published in September of 1936 during the Spanish Civil War. However it was actually written in October of 1935 and Leaf and his family always denied any political intentions. According to Munro Leaf, “it’s ‘a happy-ending story about being yourself.’ ”
(Source: School Library Journal)

Asking questions and extending learning while reading a children’s book is an art form.  The best teacher (mom/dad) slips in a question without disrupting the flow of the story while keeping the story momentum flowing.

Some questions to consider:

  1. How is Ferdinand different from all the other little bulls?
  2. Why do you think Ferdinand’s mother began to worry?
  3. Why did the men choose Ferdinand?
  4. In a bull fight, what do you think are the jobs of the Banderilleros, the Picadores, and the Matador?
  5. Do you think there is a life lesson in this story?  ExplainBut better than letting my canned questions drive you – let your child’s curiosity drive your conversation.  Now, back to packing…

CLICK HERE for a comprehensive Lesson Plan.

Don’t miss Mary Kline’s read aloud in FirefliesGLOW!   Coming soon.

Click here for learning & craft ideas to go along with this delightful book.  Pinterest

This book is worth a $2.oo investment…

The Velveteen Rabbit

Some pets are real and some are…

“What is REAL?” asked the Rabbit one day.  “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?”

“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse.  “It’s a thing that happens to you.  When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real”

There was once a velveteen rabbit, and in the beginning he was really splendid.

“Real” is a magical word to the Velveteen Rabbit — he doesn’t know quite what it means. But the Skin Horse, who is old and wise, knows, and he shares the secret: Being Real means being loved.

Margery Williams’s classic story of how a boy’s love transforms a velveteen rabbit into a real one has resonated in the hearts of children for decades.  Here is a feast for both eye and ear — the perfect book for any child who cherishes a stuffed animal.

Below is a literature guide that was created as teacher guides prior to attending a theatrical production of The Velveteen Rabbit.  It has a lot of great information and support images.

Velveteen Rabbit Curriculum Guide

 

Tumford the Terrible

By Nancy Tillman

If I had a nickel for every time I told my kids, “Tell your brother (or sister) you’re sorry!”, I’d be a wealthy woman! But on those occasions, the apology often came out as a whiny “So-o-o-rry”. Heartfelt it wasn’t. And if I were totally honest, I’d have to admit that I’ve also had a hard time saying those words, even knowing how much they needed to be said. Which brings me to Tumford. He isn’t really a terrible cat.

“But oh dear, and oh my, there was one small pity.  Tumford, it seems, was a most stubborn kitty.  In spite of the manners he often forgot, he would not say, “I’m sorry.”
Oh no, he would not.”

With each spill, crash and mishap, Tumford manages to hide, thus avoiding an apology. But when his enthusiasm causes a crash with the Village Fair Queen, Tumford gets a new thought that warms up his tummy and toes. His courage is sweetly rewarded.  Tillman has exquisitely captured “Tummy’s” feelings in her illustrations throughout this book. You’ll almost forget you’re looking at a cat as Tumford peers wide-eyed from his hiding places.

There is indeed a wondrous effect that takes place when “I’m sorry” is spoken from the heart – love and trust deepen to a new level of understanding.  Just like Tumford, spills, crashes and mishaps will continue to happen, but…to each of you, our precious children, you are loved…and that’s what matters.

Mary Kline
1.  Retell or read a child’s version of The Prodigal Son. What lesson did the son learn?
What lesson did Tumford learn?
2.  Why did the father forgive his prodigal son? Why do you think God forgives us?
3.  How did the son ask for forgiveness? Why is it important to ask for forgiveness?
4.  When someone asks us to forgive them, what should our response be?
5.  If someone says, “I’m sorry” but doesn’t change their behavior…were they really sorry?

Hans Brinker

Retold by:  Bruce Coville
Illustrated by:  Laurel Long

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I was delighted to find this charming classic reintroduced in a glorious picture book version for young readers.  Coville has masterfully adapted and interwoven three tales involving young Hans and his sister, Gretel, in this story of a family sticking together through hardship, and wondering if wishes will come true.

The first tale revolves around Hans and Gretel desiring to compete in an important ice-skating race on a Holland canal.  They, however, are too poor to afford anything but wooden skates, knowing they won’t be fast enough to win. How they wish they could win the prize of the new silver skates!

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Then there is the mystery of the loss of the family’s savings, which occurred at the same time Han’s father had a serious accident at work years earlier.  Hans finds a capable Doctor, but will he be willing to help the family?  They’ve wished for years for the renewed health of their father.

The Dutch doctor who Hans brings to help his ailing father has a burden of his own.  It seems that his hard and rough exterior is due to a heart that is full of loneliness.  What secret wish does the Doctor keep?

Acts of generosity are woven throughout these  intertwining tales, including the efforts of Hans and Gretel’s friends to help them upgrade from their wooden skates to faster, newer skates.  Will all of these wishes come true?  Are the wishes somehow related to each other?

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This is the best kind of fairy tale, when we realize that being selfless often sets a miraculous series of events in motion.  And wishes have a way of coming true – just in the nick of time!

The  illustrations are breathtaking and luminous.  They also provide visual features of Dutch architecture, culture, and society.

HANS BRINKERMary Byrne Kline
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1.  What was the reason for Annie asking Hans to carve her a wooden chain?

2.  How did the case holding the silver skates lead to solving Dr. Boekman’s wish?

3.  What facts in the story prove that Hans was selfless, and put others ahead of himself?