December 4th – Monro Leaf

“if one found some truths worth telling they should be told to the young in terms that were understandable to them.”

Monro Leaf

Wilbur Munro Leaf was born on December 4th, 1905, in Hamilton, Maryland. He grew up in Washington, D.C., and in 1927 graduated from the University of Maryland. In 1931 Leaf received his M.A. in English Literature from Harvard University. 

After college, he taught high school English briefly then worked as an editor for Frederick A. Stokes Company. 

He wrote his children’s classic, The Story of Ferdinand, in less than an hour on a legal pad. Illustrated by Leaf’s friend Robert Lawson, it was published in 1936. The story of a bull who would rather smell flowers than fight was seen as dangerous pacifist propaganda during the war – banned in Spain and burned in Germany. In 1938 Walt Disney made a film of the book. 

During his lifetime, Leaf wrote nearly 40 children’s books, including Noodle (1937) illustrated by Ludwig Bemelmans and Wee Gillis (1938), a Caldecott Honor Book. For Frederick A Stokes, he wrote several books for children on life skills, such as Manners Can Be Fun and How to Behave and Why

During WWII, he worked for the government, and along with Theodore Geisel (Dr. Seuss), created a manual on avoiding malaria entitled “The Story of Ann.”

He died December 32, 1976, in Garrett Park, Maryland, from cancer.  

Lesson from Leaf:

Leaf’s most-famous story about a bull is a timeless tale about being true to yourself, no matter the circumstances.

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