The Story of Ferdinand
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The Story of Ferdinand

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4.35 of 5 stars 4.35  ·  rating details  ·  46,021 ratings  ·  817 reviews

A true classic with a timeless message, The Story of Ferdinand has enchanted readers since it was first published in 1936. All the other bulls would run and jump and butt their heads together. But Ferdinand would rather sit and smell the flowers. So what will happen when our pacifist hero is picked for the bullfights in Madrid? This new edition contains the complete origi...more
Hardcover, 72 pages
Published January 1st 1936 by Viking
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Brad
Many of the kids books I've been revisiting are filled with specific, vivid memories of my childhood that are almost narratives unto themselves. Reading them transports me back to those (probably apocryphal) moments in my brain, leaving me full of a sort of joyful melancholy for things past and a hunger for more of those memories, a desire to relive all those locked up personal stories, so I grab another book I have always loved and devour it looking for more.

I didn't find those memories in The...more
Nikki
This is, without a doubt, my absolute FAVORITE book from childhood. I remember my mother reading this to me as a small child, and having to fight back the tears, the story touched me so deeply. I found significance in the extreme simplicity of the words and illustrations. I was impressed with Ferdinand's gentle, yet strong, nature. He stood firm against the strongest pressures and remained constant. I like to analyze this book on many levels. On a side note (and dork moment): my husband holds th...more
Kandace
I was always curious why my school library had multiple copies of "The Story of Ferdinand." Until now. Upon scanning some of the other reviews I feel left out because Ferdinand was not part of my collection growing up.

I was blown away by the simple story of a gentle bull named Ferdinand, content with his life in the Spanish countryside. When it is time to choose a strong and tough bull to fight in Madrid, Ferdinand does not care and would rather smell flowers under his favorite cork tree. Ferdi...more
A Bookworm Reading
I celebrated the Freedom to Read for the 2013 ALA Banned Book Week by reading this selection. Yes, it is a short children's picture book, but I was knee deep in other reads this year.

So why was this book banned you ask?

This book was originally published in 1936. Some saw the material as fascist, socialistic, pacifist or communistic. Munro Leaf, an American writer, had chosen to set this book in Spain. Well, history will tell us in 1936 the Spanish Civil War began a few months after publication....more
midnightfaerie
My children really enjoyed this one. The pictures were clear and drawn well, all in black and white, and it made for a more easily understandable understanding of the story line. The story was cute, and since we got it from the library, it came in a packet with an actual stuffed Ferdinand which allowed me to use my "bull voice" and have him make comments about the story and added another dimension altogether to our book time that we hadn't considered up until now. The children all loved it. My o...more
Gloria
The best children's book-- ever.
Phillip
This book fascinated me when I was learning to read. I would read and reread it. I had a deep empathy for the bull, who found himself captive and with life in danger because of mistaken identification.

The story and pictures were interesting and left questions open to my young mind that caused me to gaze in with my eyes and imagination to try to see what was beyond the pages of the story and beyond what was shown in the illustrations.

I was raised in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. It was a nice mid-weste...more
Vicky
I read this book as a small child and it fast became one of my favorites. So when I saw this in the bookstore the other day, I had to get it and share it with my son.

I loved the simplicity of it. Ferdinand is a bull, but he isn't a very fierce one. He's more of a nature lover than a fighter. I love that Ferdinand just wanted to be left alone to sit quietly under his favorite tree and smell the flowers. I think that's probably what I related to most as a child - just wanting to be left alone to...more
u1124876 UEL
I first heard about The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf through the film The Blind Side (2009). Munro Leaf was an American author who wrote this book in 1936. It is the story of a bull named Ferdinand and his happy existence sitting quietly and smelling the flowers.

The book is illustrated in black and white by Robert Lawson and there is a picture, when Ferdinand is being taken to star in a bull fight in Madrid, of what looks like the bridge in Ronda. This book is charming and informative as th...more
Alison
Another of my childhood favorites. I LOVED this story. Imagine my surprise when, 20something years later, after being married to my husband for over a year he brings some of his childhood things home from his parent's house. His favorite book as a child-Ferdinand. I went to my Mom's house and got my copy out of a box and now we have both red battered copies next to each other on the bookshelf.
Krista Stevens
I had read it before - but revisited it recently. What I loved most this time is the controversy that swirled around the book - I had no idea. Lots of readers like this for the non-violence, peace choosing theme, but that message doesn't seem accurate. I like that Ferdinand chooses to do what he loves - he doesn't judge,criticize nor disparage the other bulls who want to fight- he just wants to smell flowers. The stronger message for me is to find what makes you happy and do that regardless of w...more
Rosemary
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Melanie
Ferdinand the Bull is not like the other young bulls. He doesn't like to run, jump and butt heads with the other calves. He likes to sit under his favorite tree and smell the flowers. His mother doesn't mind as long as he's happy.

One day men show up to choose the fiercest, scariest, strongest bull to fight in the big bullfight in Madrid, Spain. All of the other bulls ran, jumped and charged to show the men how fierce and strong they were. But it is Ferdinand who is chosen after being stung by a...more
Adina Cappell
This is a book that celebrates the introverts among us. While Ferdinand's bull brethren wrestle each other, in hopes of being chosen to represent at the bullfights in Madrid, Ferdinand likes to just sit under the cork oak, and to observe the lovely flowers. Ferdinand's mom is worried about him, but she comes to realize that he isn't unhappy; he just rather enjoys spending a lot of time alone.
I do wish that Ferdinand had some friends, as his complete withdrawal from the world resembles schizoid...more
Olivia Lavelle
The Story of Ferdinand was a vey enjoyable primary book. I really enjoyed reading the book for myself. I was surprised at how long the book was, because primary books are usually shorter. On the other hand, inside the cover page there was a picture of buildings and little children pointing and running towards the picture " EL TORO FEROCIO FERDINAND." I automatically thought this was going to be about this big fierce bull that was an outstanding bull fighter. When I read the book it took me by su...more
Nelson Ganeshwaran
This is a fantastic book to read and children as well as adults will enjoy reading it. This book is not well known in the UK but it is well known in North America. Written in the year 1936 by an American author called Munro Leaf, it is about a bull who would rather smell flowers than fight in bullfights. When bulls are in a ring, they are expected to fight and be aggressive but Ferdinand will sit in the middle of the ring and refused to fight even when he was provoked by the matadors. Ferdinand...more
Esdaile
This book brings back memories. It has a clear message of peace, this story of the bull who did not want to fight. It was one of my favourite tales when I was small. The message is "do not play their game". From the point of view of the traditional gathering of the forces of power and destruction, this work is subversive and I suspect it does a good job. Ferdinand is a delightful fellow. I cannot remember who gave me the book nor what happened to it, which makes me a little sad.
Jenn
This is one of my all-time-fave books that I realized I hadn't put on my list of books! I memorized it in 4th grade when we were given an assignment to memorize a favorite book to read aloud to kindergarten students and I still love the phrase "liked to sit just quietly and smell the flowers." I think it describes my philosophy in life, really, and I just love Ferdinand. Now when I read the book, I can hear my mom's voice in my head - which is an awesome thing!
I also remember - fondly - a moment...more
Michelle
I am giving this children's book such a low rating not for the story itself, but how it came into my life.
My son just started school this year, he just turned six years old, and is in kindergarten.
Every week, they send a kindergartener home with a bag with a theme, last week was gardening, this week was "understanding differences".
Now, after some googling I realize this book is quite an old tale, and should be treated as such.
But I do not, and did not want my kindergartener reading about bull fi...more
David
I'd forgotten exactly how gay little Ferdinand is. No wonder I've always loved this book!
Megan Alexander
Title: The Story of Ferdinand
Author: Munro Leaf
Illustrator: Robert Lawson
Date of Publication: 1936
Genre: Fiction
Summary:
Ferdinand is a bull who likes to sit quietly and smell the flowers unlike the rest of his friends who are always wrestling to be the best fighting bulls in Spain. Later when he is all grown up, five men come to pick the biggest and fiercest bull to take to Spain to fight. Ferdinand has no interest in fighting and is content sitting beside the flowers. However, Ferdinand gets st...more
Sarah
Traditional Literature: hero story

Characters: Ferdinand, other bulls, five men

Setting: Once upon a time; Madrid, Spain

Themes: peace, contentment, pacifism, temper, self-awareness

Summary: Ferdinand is a quiet, peaceful bull, who wants nothing more than to sit under a cork tree and smell the flowers. The other bulls dream of being chosen for the bullfights in Madrid, but not Ferdinand-- when he is put in the ring, he simply lays down in the cool grass. Coincidently, on the day that five men come t...more
J-Lynn
I never read this story as a child, but am so glad that I checked it out from the library. A beautiful tale about a Spanish bull who doesn't want to fight and be tough like the other bulls, but just wants to sit in the pasture and smell the pretty flowers. When he is chosen for the bull fights, he refuses to fight and must be returned to his beloved pasture. A great tale of difference and pacifism.

Since the book was originally published in 1936, the illustrations are simple blackline sketches.
Tiffany
Cute story about Ferdinand, a young bull who just wants to do his own thing and not be rowdy and rambunctious like the other little bulls.
Rigoberto Gamez
Ferdinand is a bull who does not seem too interested in doing the same thing other bulls are doing. When they fight and smash heads with each other he just sits and smells flowers. As time goes on he get bigger and stronger, but his likes stay the same, he doesn’t want to be a fierce bull he just wants to sit under his favorite tree and smell the flowers. On the day they were going to pick a bull for the fights in Madrid, Ferdinand went to sit under the tree and was stung by a bee that made him...more
Emelda
Joe was lukewarm about this story, as was I. It had a cute anti-sexist message and the book could be construed as an anti-bullfighting message if you dig deep enough and comment on the text while you read it.

Basic story: a bull likes to sit and smell the flowers. Through a random incident, he's picked for a bull fight and, instead of fighting, he sits and smells the flowers in the audiences' hair. Cute.
Laura
Ferdinand is not like any other calf in the entire herd. The other little bulls like to dash about and butt heads. But Ferdinand, bull that he is, likes to sit under a cork tree and smell the flowers. All the other bulls, as they grow older, hope to be chosen as the biggest, fiercest bull in Spain – worthy to compete in the bull fights in Madrid. But not Ferdinand. He knows he is not strong or fierce. He prefers to take naps.

But when he accidentally sits on a bumblebee and subsequently goes char...more
Kathleen
This story is so CUTE! It is about a bull named Ferdinand who is not like all the other bulls. He likes to sit by the flowers and smell them whereas the other bulls like to run, jump, and butt heads. One day, he accidentally sat on a bee and the bee stung him. This made Ferdinand go crazy. As he was going crazy five men who came to look for the biggest,fastest, and roughest bull saw him and took him to for bull fights in Madrid. When they let Ferdinand out he sat in the middle of the ring and sm...more
Austen to Zafón
I didn't read this until I had a child. I wish I had! What a beautiful story. One of my favorite musicians, Elliott Smith, had Ferdinand tattooed on his arm and it was easy to see why. Ferdinand is the mascot for boys who are sweet and sensitive. Now I've read it many times and I love it each time.
Charley Gray
I read that there was this little bull and his name was Ferdinand. He liked to sit underneath a cork tree and smell the flowers. One day a bunch of men came in funny hats, so that they could pick a bull to fight in the bull fights in Madrid. I learned about bulls ever since I read that.
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Munro Leaf, author and illustrator of dozens of children’s books, is best remembered for his signature character, Ferdinand, the Spanish bull who preferred smelling flowers to fighting in a ring in Spain. Composed in less than an hour one Sunday afternoon in 1935, the book sparked controversy. With the Spanish Civil War raging, political critics charged that it was a satirical attack on aggression...more
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“And for all I know he is sitting there still, under his favorite cork tree, smelling the flowers just quietly” 10 likes
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