Ferdinand the Bull | Page: Readings & Signings | Indy Week
This is a past event.

Ferdinand the Bull 

When: Tue., Dec. 30 2014



NASHER MUSEUM OF ART—Few children's stories have held up through the years like The Story of Ferdinand, the 1936 book by Munro Leaf about a bull who can't help but be himself. For a fairly simple tale aimed at kids, the story has stirred up a lot of controversy over the decades. It was banned in Spain under the fascist regime of Franco for its pacifist sympathies, and it was one of the books that Adolf Hitler ordered to be burned. It's a straightforward plot: The hero is a young Spanish bull preoccupied with sitting under a cork tree and smelling the flowers, not with fighting, like his cohorts. But after a misunderstanding, Ferdinand is carted off to fight in Madrid, where he stays true to himself and refuses to go toe-to-toe with the pompous matador.

In 1938, Disney released a short film adaptation in its signature round and bright prewar style, gracefully integrating illustrator Robert Lawson's beautiful scenes, which are as famous as the story. More than 75 years later, Ferdinand still pokes his head into pop culture: Elliot Smith and Lena Dunham both got prominent tattoos of illustrations from the book, Sandra Bullock's character namedropped Ferdinand in The Blind Side and Fall Out Boy titled its 2005 album From Under the Cork Tree. Ferdinand has become an emblem of keeping cool and having heart, even as the surrounding world descends into aggression and madness.

This event at the Nasher, a reading of the book in English and Spanish (plus a showing of the Disney short), is meant for young children, but Leaf's message of peace and self-direction is important for their adult companions, too. And while it doesn't officially tie in to the museum's current exhibit of Spanish artist Joan Miró's late works, it makes for a great contemporaneous complement. 10:30 a.m., free, 2001 Campus Dr., 919-684-5135, www.nasher.duke.edu. —Allison Hussey


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