The tale is one of Aesop's Fables and concerns a shepherd boy who repeatedly tricks nearby villagers into thinking a wolf is attacking his flock of sheep. When a wolf actually does appear and the boy again calls for help, the villagers believe that it is another false alarm and the sheep are eaten by the wolf.
Aesop may or may not have been an actual person (he probably was) who lived around 620 to 564 BCE (he probably did). His life is almost a fairy tale of its own, with branches and fabrications shared and spread throughout the years. Storytelling at that time was largely an oral tradition and storytellers and fabulists often changed tales to suit their needs with little crediting of the origins of stories.
Since Aesop was considered one of the greatest storytellers of his age, this story is one of many credited to him even though it didn't really become widespread until the 1400's after being translated into Latin and appearing in European collections of folktales.
In fact, there was no original title for this story, some calling it "Of the Child Which Kept the Sheep", "The Boy Who Lied" or my favorite, "A Boy and False Alarms".
Interestingly, while parents and educators have often used the story of "The Boy Who Cried Wolf" as a cautionary tale about the power of telling the truth, educational experiments in the last few decades have shown that reading the story actually increases a child's likelihood of lying.
But don't worry, reading "George and the Cherry Tree" has been shown to increase the likelihood of children telling the truth.
SPOILER ALERT: In the original Aesop's fable all of the sheep die in the end.
LATER ENGLISH-LANGUAGE SPOILER ALERT: The wolf also eats the boy.
Story Idea: Francisco McHuffy loses his teeth.
Sometimes he loses them normally. Sometimes he loses them under very bizarre circumstances.
What he never loses is his persistence in finding them so he can cash them in with the Tooth Fairy.
How else is he going to buy his mother a very special gift?
Francisco McHuffy's first tooth fell out at home.
His mother wanted him to put it under his pillow so the tooth fairy would come. But Francisco just put it in a jar and said...
Francisco McHuffy's second tooth fell out at school.
His teacher wanted him to put it in an envelope so he could take it home but Francisco pulled out his jar and put his second tooth next to the other.
Francisco McHuffy's third tooth fell out while he was brushing his teeth.
It clattered around the sink for a moment, swirling in the water before going down the drain. He had climb under the sink with a bucket and wrench to find it.
Francisco McHuffy's fourth tooth fell out at the beach. He had to borrow a metal detector and change the setting to "Teeth" to find it. Into the jar his tooth went next to the others.
Francisco McHuffy's fifth tooth fell out when he was eating carrots in the school cafeteria during lunch.
His tooth skittered across the floor so he had to crawl underneath all of the tables and through all of the feet and food bits to find it.
On and on this went for Francisco, over weeks and weeks...
Each time he would lose a tooth he would find it and place it in his jar, while his mother kept asking him to leave each tooth under his pillow for the tooth fairy to find.
But each time Francisco would simply place the tooth in his jar and say...
He lost another tooth while skateboarding, watching as it flew through the air before landing in a storm drain.
He lost another tooth while playing in the outfield during a baseball game. The umpire called a time out so everyone could help look for it.
He lost another tooth during his music lesson, where it shot out of his trombone before sticking in the ugly wallpaper.
He lost another tooth at the zoo. The zookeeper had to dive into the shark tank to retrieve it.
One tooth fell out on the ground when a bird grabbed it before flying away. Francisco had to look in ten different bird's nests before he found the right one.
TO BE CONTINUED...
The earliest published version of the fable was in 1853 and originally featured three little pixies.
The tale became more widely popularized after the main characters were changed to pigs and the story included in The Nursery Rhymes of England in 1886.
ORIGINAL TALE SPOILER ALERT: The wolf dies in the end.
UPDATED SPOILER ALERT: In the various retellings, sometimes the first two brother pigs (straw house and stick house) die along the way.
MODERN DAY SPOILER ALERT: None of the pigs die and the wolf only burns his tail after trying to climb down the chimney to eat the pigs.
A lot of people comment on how "rough" my sketches are but how nicely the final images are when converted to vector art.
A small part of this is because with a program like Inkscape, which I love, you can easily control the lines, the thickness of the lines, the colors, layering, and so much more.
A bigger part of this is that I'm usually sketching while watching The Great British Baking Show or some other Netflix series,
The biggest part of this is that I am complete garbage at coloring. Totally awful. Even when I use a color wheel as a guide the results are pretty hit-or-miss. Mostly miss.
It takes practice, and skill, and knowledge and time.
I give you Delaware tattoo artist... Fred Giovannitti!
The first time I was introduced to Ferdinand the bull it was watching the Walt Disney short film version during a drive in theater double-feature intermission. I absolutely loved the story and the animation but I had no idea the character was actually from a children's book
At that point in my very young life I thought Walt Disney made up all of their movie stories by themselves, which was true of their Mickey Mouse cartoons but not true of movies like Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and Snow White (by the Brothers Grimm), and The Jungle Book (by Rudyard Kipling).
After watching Ferdinand on the big screen I remember coming across it in my town library, loving the story but being absolutely amazed at how a children's book could be expanded to tell a much more elaborate and...well... animated story on the big screen. It was shortly after this time that I started consuming a lot of Hans Christian Andersen, Brothers Grimm, Aesop's Fables, and other writers to read children's stories in their original non-Disney form.
And it was horrifying... But that's a story for a different post. Now back to Ferdinand.
I knew that there were authors and illustrators of children's books but I had previously thought that Walt Disney made the movies and then others went and wrote the book version of those films (I was young, don't judge).
The Story of Ferdinand was the first time where I actually asked my town librarian for help in looking up other stories by the same author which, tangentially, led me to Mr. Popper's Penguins. But it also led me to my first research on the people who write and illustrate stories, which became a sort of side-obsession whenever I would read a new story. It also introduced me to research tools like microfiche and microfilm but that is also a blog post for another time.
Long story short, The Story of Ferdinand was the first time I ever researched the origins of a story and that led to my love of learning about the personal story behind the literary one, which leads me back to The Story of Ferdinand...
If you haven't read it, "The Story of Ferdinand" follows a bull who wants to sit alone under a tree and smell the flowers.
In fact, that's all he EVER wants to do.
While the other bulls run around snorting and butting heads and fighting all day, Ferdinand prefers to relax and enjoy the world around him, underneath his favorite cork tree.
But then, "One day five men came in very fun hats to pick the biggest, fastest, roughest bull to fight in the bull fights in Madrid."
Ferdinand, wanting none of it, sits under his tree while the other bulls show off for the men. But when Ferdinand sits on a bee, he jumps up and shouts and thrashes around, accidentally impressing the men who take him in a cart to Madrid to fight a matador.
Instead of fighting, though, Ferdinand just sits and smells the flowers in the lovely ladies' hair, no matter how hard he is poked and prodded by the Bandilleros, Picadores or the Matador.
So they have to take Ferdinand home, where he is very happy smelling his flowers once more.
And that is basically the story of Ferdinand.
THE STORY BEHIND THE STORY...
In 1935 Munro Leaf, a high school teacher, wrote the story on a yellow legal pad in less than an hour for his out-of-work friend and neighbor, Robert Lawson, who was an illustrator. He chose a bull because most children's books were full of dogs, rabbits, mice and goats and he wanted to do something different.
Munro intended the book to be a simple tale for children, of a bull who just enjoyed life. But The Story of Ferdinand actually ignited international controversy. It was published during the Spanish Civil War and many people saw it as a rallying cry for, and indictment of, Generalissimo Francisco Franco.
The Story of Ferdinand was also viewed as a treatise on pacifism. Adolf Hitler ordered the book burned as "degenerate democratic propaganda," which, if you know anything about the Spanish Civil War, was rife with propaganda.
"Everybody saw I was obviously writing propaganda," Leaf said, "but they couldn't decide which side."
Either way, the controversy helped ignite the books popularity where, in 1938, it knocked off Margaret Mitchell's Gone With The Wind as the number-one best-seller in the United States!
It was also turned into a Disney animated short that won an Academy Award in 1938!
Munro Leaf Munro Leaf went on to write and/or illustrate almost forty children's books in his lifetime, with Ferdinand his most famous work.
Robert Lawson was the illustrator of forty-six children's books (including Mr. Popper's Penguins), and the author of over twenty of those works. In 1941 he won the Caldecott Medal for illustration (They Were Good and Strong) and in 1945 he won the Newbury Medal for literature (Rabbit Hill), making him the only person to have won both a Caldecott AND a Newbury Medal.
Not bad for a book that took less time to write than I spent putting together this post!