The other day, when I wrote about reading Ferdinand the Bull and the poem I enjoyed about it, I remembered another children’s story about a bull whose life was saved. I was in first grade, and one of my teachers read Little Egret and Toro aloud to the class. Originally published in 1966 by Robert Vavra, I really got into the story. The young bull, Toro, saves the life of his friend Little Egret from a dangerous fox. Years later, Little Egret returns the favor as a grown Toro is led into the bullring. I was transfixed also by the fact that it was set in Spain (a longtime interest, especially the Spanish language), and that the black and white drawings were so beautiful. It was the first time I realized that pictures didn’t have to be in color to be pretty.
As the years passed, this story was overtaken by many other interesting books that were much more difficult and equally moving. But I never forgot this one completely. All I could remember was “Toro” and an image of white handkerchiefs.
In rare moments of nothing to do, I would try to look it up. No title really sounded like it, but I kept looking. I’m not sure which combination of words led me to it in the card catalog, but I found it, checked it out, and enjoyed visiting it again. The gaps in my memory were filled, and now I have a clear picture of the tale again. And it’s just as lovely the second time around.
Years ago, I knew nothing about the author, Robert Vavra, and the illustrator,, John Fulton. Fulton passed away in 1998. He was a gifted artist and Spain’s first U.S.-born matador. And he did so much more in his life. Here is an article about the last bullfight before his retirement.
Robert Vavra has also done many cool things in his life, including being a professional photographer. Check out his website above for his work and varied life. He specializes in photographing horses. Besides Little Egret and Toro, he has written ten other books for children.