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The Story of Ferdinand

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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 original text of the story and the original illustrations.

72 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 1936

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About the author

Munro Leaf

85 books253 followers
Wilbur Monroe Leaf AKA Munro Leaf, author and illustrator of dozens of children’s books.

He 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. In Germany, the book was burned; in India, Ghandi called it his favorite. Even today, Ferdinand continues to charm children around the world—the story has been translated into over 60 languages.

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5 stars
52,600 (58%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,014 reviews
Profile Image for Patrick.
Author 89 books232k followers
December 27, 2014
I'm not an impartial judge of this book.

I'm assuming all of you know the story. It's about a bull that doesn't want to bullfight like the other bulls. He just wants to sit and smell flowers in the field.

My mom used to read it to me when I was a kid. She used to call me her little Ferdinand, because all the other little boys wanted to run around and roughhouse. And I didn't. I just wanted to sit and read and think.

I'm not an impartial judge of this book. But I'm fond of it. And when a book's been around for 70 years, there's usually a reason for it.
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,566 reviews56.6k followers
May 20, 2021
The Story of Ferdinand, Munro Leaf

The Story of Ferdinand (1936) is the best known work written by American author Munro Leaf and illustrated by Robert Lawson.

The children's book tells the story of a bull who would rather smell flowers than fight in bullfights.

He sits in the middle of the bull ring failing to take heed of any of the provocations of the matador and others to fight.

تاریخ نخستین خوانش: دوم ماه ژانویه سال 2006میلادی

عنوان: اما فردیناند این کار را نکرد؛ نویسنده: مونرو لیف ؛ مترجم: طاهره آدینه پور؛ ویراستار: مرتضی خسرونژاد؛ تهران، شرکت انتشارات علمی و
فرهنگی؛ چاپ اول 1383، در 72ص؛ مصور؛ شابک: 9644454790 ؛ موضوع: داستانهای حیوانات برای گروه سنی ب و ج سده 20م

گوساله کوچکی به نام «فردیناند»، با گله ای از گاوها در «اسپانیا» زندگی میکند؛ «فردیناند» بر خلاف دیگر گوساله ها، که دوست دارند شاخهاشان را به هم بکوبند، و سمهاشان را بر زمین بکشند، دوست دارد، در جایی کاملاٌ آرام بنشیند، و گل‌ها را بو کند؛ روزی از روزها بر حسب رویدادی، توسط عده ای گاوباز، برای مسابقه ی گاوبازی به «مادرید» برده می‌شود؛ اما در زمین مسابقه، به جای خشونت و شاخ کوبیدن، آرام می‌نشیند و...؛

داستان «اما فردیناند این کار را نکرد»، پیام صلح و دوستی برای خوانشگر کم سن و سال خویش دارد؛ نویسنده کوشش کرده، تا روحیه ی آشتی دوستی، و آرامش را، در داستانی از زبان حیوانات به خوانشگرش برساند؛ «مونرو لیف»، ژرف بینانه، شخصیت اصلی داستان خویش را، گاو انتخاب کرده، آنهم گاوی «اسپانیایی»، که دارای شهرت، قدرت، و خشونتی جهانی است؛ در جایی که گاوها برای خشونت، و سرگرمی گاوبازها تربیت میشوند، گاوی وجود دارد، که عاشق طبیعت، و زیبایی است؛ داستان نشان می‌دهد، که صلح و آرامش را می‌توان، در هر مکان، و زمانی، به دست آورد؛

متن داستان روان، و درکش بسیار آسان است؛ تصاویر کتاب در راستای متن حرکت میکنند، و با وجود اینکه تک رنگ (سیاه وسفید) هستند، چیزی از جذابیتشان کاسته نشده، و فضای تصاویر با فضای متن داستان، کاملا همخوانی دارد؛ داستان «فردیناند»، یک داستان چند لایه است، که در زیر پوسته ی ظاهر، می‌توان داستان انسانهایی را دید، که عاشق طبیعت و زیبایی هستند؛ انسان‌هایی که به دور از دغدغه ی «مُد»، یا «عرف‌های فرهنگی»، و «اجتماعی»، به زندگی خود ادامه میدهند، و آنگونه که می‌خواهند زندگی میکنند

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 29/02/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Calista.
3,875 reviews31.2k followers
October 21, 2020
Love this peace loving Bull. Great story to introduce to my niece and nephew.

I think the first time I knew of this story was seeing the Disney Cartoon and the peaceful bull. But, the story is amazing all on its own. Munro created something wonderful here to reach through the ages. It's getting close to being 100 years old and still universal.

We think of bulls as aggressive and dangerous and the Matador culture was very hyper-masculine and about killing for sport. Ferdinand is a contrast to that. He has the outward appearance of being a dangerous bull, but he wants nothing more than to sit and sniff flowers. I think sterotypes or generalizations are they because most of the time they can be true, but to assume everyone or everything is like that is not correct. It's tough giving everyone a chance to prove who they are. Ferdinand is an example of the exception.

It's a wonderful story still with an important story to tell.
Profile Image for da AL.
366 reviews365 followers
January 5, 2018
Lovely, lovely book. Sweet story -- plus bonus magical illustrations of romanticized Spain of yore to delight all.
Profile Image for Jon Nakapalau.
4,916 reviews684 followers
May 30, 2017
I enjoyed this book on several levels: a wonderful book about being yourself for children - but also a subconscious commentary on fascist Spain - a bull with a big heart picked to be slaughtered at the Blood Wedding of Franco and fed to his guests - my interpretation.
Profile Image for Stephanie Anze.
657 reviews112 followers
January 15, 2018
"This is the story of Ferdinand - a little bull who would rather sit and smell flowers than fight in the bullring."


This book truly is a gem. While I had heard about this work before, this is the first time that I have read it and I absolutely love it. Originally published in 1936, this work has been translated into more than 60 languages and has rarely been out of print. As this title is well known, I want to talk about its background. Its a hefty one. While Munro Leaf is an American author because of the timing, setting and main character, this work is thought to have a political agenda. The book was published shortly before the Spanish Civil War. Described by some as subversive with a pacifist view (which challenged the facism that currenlty predominated Europe), "Ferdinand" was banned in many countries including Spain and Germany. Hitler is quoted as describing the book as "degenerate democratic propaganda". Franco was not a fan of the book either (the book was not available in Spain til after Franco's death). Its no surprise that the book was loved by Ghandi and Franklin & Eleanor Roosevelt, among other important figures.

When asked Munro denied any political ties saying "its a happy-ending book about being yourself". In fact, it is alleged that this work was written in 40 minutes on a whim to be give Robert Lawson an opportunity to illustrate. The illustrations are marvelous, by the way. Whatever your personal take away from the book, its impossible to deny its impact. Mine? I just adore this gentle and kind bull and love the message of the book. Its a sweet and charming work for people of all ages. This is my final book for 2017 and it was a good one.

P.S.: I an really looking forward to watching the animated movie version.

15/01/18 EDIT: Saw the movie this past weekend and absolutely loved it. While there was a story added, it kept the essence of the book. It is a perfect compliment to the original.
Profile Image for Brian Yahn.
310 reviews593 followers
January 7, 2016
The mood and tone of this story are both spot on. And even though Ferdinand is easy to love, and even though the beginning is cute and entrancing, overall, the story is just pretty okay.

It's about a bull who doesn't want to fight like all the others, because he'd rather just relax and smell flowers. Can you blame him? No. But there's really not much more to the story than that.
Profile Image for Brad.
Author 2 books1,687 followers
December 24, 2011
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 Story of Ferdinand, but I may have found something more precious.

I found that this story, with its beautiful illustrations and its little bull turned big bull who just wants to live peacefully and smell his flowers, made me think about people I care about rather than remembering some synapsy tale of them.

It made me think of my mother, Chris. I always called her "Chris," which drove my father crazy because of how "disrespectful" it was. I thought of Chris and guessed that she probably read this book to me first. And I thought of how every book I touch and word I write is her gift to me, for teaching me too read, then teaching me to challenge myself with books that were "inappropriate," then sharing our reading when we were older.

It made me think of my cousin, Fred, who I called Ferdinand behind his back. I thought of his moustache and 80s hair. I thought of how we both had brutally abusive fathers, but have never talked about it, even now, so many years after escaping their fists.

It made me think of K.I. Hope, and how the anger of her writing -- that wonderful, necessary, emotional, ethical rage -- would cringe at the other bulls, Ferdinand's friends and family, showing off in the hopes of travelling to Madrid to be slaughtered in the bullfights. I thought of what a true friend she is and how unlikely it is to find a genuine friend on something like this social media platform, and how I have found so many.

It made me think of Brontë and Miloš and Scoutie, and how much they love The Story of Ferdinand, and how Miloš is always trying to mimic the light Spanish accent I use to read them the book aloud, and how Brontë loves the art, and how Scoutie babbles the story back to me with her incomprehensible toddler language, punctuated by a "Ferdie-and" or "cow."

And it made me think of Munroe Leaf. She and all the other authors I've had a relationship over my life. They have been my best friends. And each book that I love ... it's a gift written by them just for me. Thanks, Munroe. I love you too.
Profile Image for Julie.
553 reviews276 followers
January 30, 2018
It could be said this has been on my TBR list since childhood. I don't remember reading it then, and don't remember reading it to my daughter. Although I've known the story of the "little bull with a gentle heart who turned into a big bull with a gentle heart" for quite some time, I'd never picked up a copy until now.

Lovely little story, which shook the world one might say.

It was banned in Spain during the Spanish Civil War since it was seen as a "pacifist" book. (Oh, the horror!)

It was banned in Nazi Germany (by none other than Little Adolf) for being "degenerate democratic propaganda."

We better watch out, girls and boys, if The Trumpet ever learns to read!

How can you rate it less than 5 glorious stars when you know that it made Franco and Hitler shake in their tiny little boots, just at the thought of it?

(And for what it's worth, it's a great little book for children too!)
Profile Image for Antonomasia.
973 reviews1,195 followers
September 12, 2020
Re-read solely because I'm getting fed up that a reading challenge is hanging about with a few incomplete categories - and everything I truly want to read in the 'banned books' category is either long, or very dense, and would take a while. Instead, I dispatched it in ten minutes by re-reading this.

Plus, I thought Ferdinand (1936) might be interesting, three months after reading Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises (1926). There wasn't quite as much comparison fodder as I thought there might be, as Ferdinand is so short and simple a story. Although, whilst Hemingway's is very much pro bullfighting, and Leaf obviously against it - both books are about not being the sort of manly man/creature that the world expects. Jake in The Sun Also Rises uses being a bullfighting aficionado as a way to express masculinity that, in some other ways, is thwarted, and to get respect from other men. It seems obvious that Munro Leaf must have read Hemingway's novel: Ferdinand refuses to be used to bolster the masculinity of human males like Jake (just as the WWI pacifist or conscientious objector refused to fight in an imperialist war engineered by politicians), and is more confident being his idiosyncratic, flower-loving self. After all, it's been his personality his whole life, so he's just being himself - whereas Jake has been thwarted by a war injury and can't 'be himself' as he was once used to. And because this is a book for small children, Ferdinand is of course rewarded for being the way he is and wants to be.

The book's pacifism seems to be closest to that of the First World War, seen by objectors as a senseless war fought for those in power. I think it's important to be aware that Ferdinand was published shortly *before* the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War. Among international left-wing intellectuals the Spanish Civil War was seen as an unusually pure moral cause - and especially compared with WWI - a cause worth fighting for, including by those who objected to other wars. So, for an audience of pacifists, the context of 1930s Spain wouldn't be the best fit for a parable. However, one can imagine it finding favour with a mainstream Anglo audience, including those who thought young people shouldn't go to fight in Spain. Pacifism was also complicated in the Second World War, with arguments by some who'd have been pacifists for other wars that the Nazi regime - and more so as its atrocities were revealed - should also be fought.

I already knew that revisiting books I read as a teenager ends up being about reviewing my past self at least as much as the book. I hadn't expected that would be the case for something I read (and found boring) when I was about seven. And boy did I find this boring. I'd heard it talked up but hadn't read it because I thought it *looked* boring, and with so many pictures and so few words it was clearly a book for a lower reading level. The more I think about being that age, the more obvious it seems now that I was on the spectrum, and Ferdinand was a book that particularly irked my smart-arse, literal-minded self. The same part of me that was getting exasperated aged three when all the adults kept insisting that Santa was real. Obviously (add your finest first-year Hermione "actually" voice) calves don't think about wanting to be fighting bulls when they grow up, they just stand around and eat grass and sense what's around them and exist, and obviously an unwanted bullfighting bull probably wouldn't get sent back to the farm. Unless it was like one of those donkey sanctuaries that sometimes had adverts in the TV Times. And that was pretty much all I cared about The Story of Ferdinand as a kid.

When I look at this story now, though, I think of people I've known in the years since who must have been a 'Ferdinand' type among their peers, especially if they were boys who weren't into sports, and that makes me like the character of Ferdinand quite a lot more. There's certainly something here about having gender-atypical interests and temperament, especially for boys. (As a fairly aggressive girl who'd been moved to a girls' school and was missing the opportunity to fight boys, or to have fights as a part of playground culture in general, it wasn't going to strike a chord with me at the age I read it.)

My child-self in this book is the matador who cried because he didn't get to show off.

The mother supporting Ferdinand to be the way he is seems advanced for 1936, so no wonder the book has maintained its popularity. Though the clause "even though she was a cow" reads oddly, as it either sounds rude, or it breaks the suspension of disbelief about the extent to which the calves think.

This book is more interesting for having read more stories - especially the Hemingway, as above, and also about the cow that wants to be eaten in Douglas Adams' The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, the comedy SF incarnation of a philosophical problem. Possibly the literary descendant of Ferdinand's peers - but something that, to me, was instantly interesting as a teenager, in the way Leaf's story hadn't been, half a short lifetime earlier.

To a snobbish seven-year-old with a higher reading age, illustrations in a book mostly meant 'babyish' (at least in those days before graphic novels for kids were a big thing). So I wouldn't have looked very carefully at them. Also, I needed glasses but didn't know it.

Now, having been reading a lot of comics, I'm very impressed with the detail and artistry in these drawings. I especially liked the way they suddenly shifted from sweet into comedy-cartoon mode when Ferdinand was stung by the bumblebee. And the array of hats worn by the men who arrived to select fighting bulls: now it harks me back to Richard Scarry's illustrations denoting different countries and the clearly delineated categories of things like that which used to be used in kids' books: there's a cowboy hat, a Quaker hat, something a lot like a Russian ushanka, and a Bolivian-style bowler hat (here worn by a man; they are women's costume in Bolivia) - plus a fifth I frustratingly can't place. Costume-wise, they also put a lot of detail into the bullfighters' costumes, and I was surprised to see three different bullfighting roles named in Spanish and their roles and weapons described - with enough information to make it clear they would cause pain and damage, although certainly not what I'd call graphically.

I had expected to be concluding this review with something like, "it's yet another reason I'm glad I don't have kids, so I don't have to put up with simplistic message-driven stories like this all the time" (though I still think that's the case about a lot of newer children's books I hear about on GR). But, by putting it in the context of other books, and people I've met since I left school, it becomes rather more interesting, at least for one re-read. So instead I'm thinking more that I would say to a kid similar to I was, if they mentioned they disliked the story for the same reasons I did,, my answer would be, "No, they don't really, you're right about that, but it's clever to know that *and* notice how they use something unrealistic to create a message." And talk about the historical context about the world wars and pacifism. (No wonder I took to editions with notes and introductions as soon as I found them. I'd needed them for years earlier. I don't think it even registered the book was as old as it was until I was on GR. I just used to assume everything with illustrations like that was 1950s or 1960s.) But I would definitely support the stop-pretending-about-Santa thing that no-one backed me up on as a kid. And even more so, rejection of the modern addition that many parents, for unfathomable reasons, both loathe and practise, the Elf on the Shelf. I would be proud of a smug little Dawkinsesque kid pontificating to the rest of the class about how it was made up and silly.
Profile Image for Alexandra .
862 reviews269 followers
October 13, 2019
Ein entzückendes Kinderbuch über das Anderssein und gegen den Strom Schwimmen mit sehr schönen Zeichnungen über einen spanischen Stier, der nicht kämpfen will. :-)
Profile Image for Krista Stevens.
948 reviews15 followers
March 15, 2014
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 what others (society) tells you.

Ferdinand's mom doesn't receive a lot of press, which is too bad, as she should be a model for parents everywhere. She worries about Ferdinand when he is young as he is always off by himself and she was concerned that he would be lonesome. He explains to her that what he is doing is making him happy and - she listens. Wow. Then the best line in the book as far as I'm concerned is "His mother saw that he was not lonesome, and because she was an understanding mother, even though she was a cow, she let him just sit there and be happy." You go mom.

Finally, once I really started looking at Robert Lawson's illustrations with lots of help from the internet - I was blown away.

The historical timeframe of this book, published just as World War II is ramping up, also intrigued me. That, in and of itself, was fascinating.

A little book - a lot of punch.
Profile Image for Kandace.
38 reviews
December 4, 2013
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. Ferdinand is stung by a bee and in his natural reaction of snorting and butting, he is mistaken by the city men as a suitable candidate for the bull fight and they take him away. What will happen to Ferdinand when they reach the ring? Will he turn into a rough and tough competitor as expected? Or will he remain true to his mild, contemplative nature?

Published over 70 years ago, the straightforward significance of this story is clear. Along with the rich and uncomplicated black and white drawings of Robert Lawson, Munro Leaf captures the essence of attaining happiness. Stereotyped expectations can be avoided by remaining true to oneself. Readers of all ages can identify with the notion that being different doesn’t make it wrong. Sometimes it’s the small things in life that make us the most happy. Ferdinand proves this true when he attains bliss by simply sitting and smelling the flowers.
Profile Image for Nicole.
268 reviews34 followers
September 28, 2008
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 the same valuable characteristics I have always cherished in Ferdinand. I think I fell in love with Ferdinand as a child and as an adult found him realized and embodied in my husband.

Profile Image for Plethora.
281 reviews166 followers
August 10, 2016
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. Hitler's Third Reich was already in power in Germany.

The leader of the Spanish Nationalist, General Francisco Franco and his supporters saw the book as being pacifist, so it was banned.

Hitler called it degenerate propaganda and had it burned, he also supported Franco's Nationalist movement.

What exactly is this book about?

Being that is a short read I won't give away too much, but Ferdinand is young bull. He doesn't wish to partake in the rough horseplay that his brothers do all day. He would rather sit under a cork tree and enjoy life.

Be sure to enjoy the illustrations in the book, as they are fairly accurate for the area. Munro Leaf actually wrote this book for his friend Robert Lawson to illustrate. Lawson was in need of somewhere to showcase his work.

See slightly reworded review on my blog.
Profile Image for Marquise.
1,709 reviews397 followers
December 13, 2017
Where was this little gem when I was young? Hard not to cast my childhood as poorer in hindsight seeing how many great children's literature I missed back then. Well, better late than never! Nobody said "grown-up kids" can't read this book and enjoy it as well..
Profile Image for Atlas.
221 reviews253 followers
March 1, 2018
A classic children's story that even for a grown man like me means a lot, even though I`m not as strong as a bull, I believe that Ferdinand looks like me when I was a little boy :)
Profile Image for disco.
562 reviews222 followers
March 11, 2018
Awe Ferdinand is such a cutie pie!
Profile Image for Darcy.
134 reviews
January 4, 2017
Very emotional--I cried the whole time and refused to even accept my pacifier. Why should I be pacified when poor Ferdinand, our peace-loving protagonist, is dragged to Madrid against his will to participate in a bullfight before a mob eager for bloodshed and violence??! Satisfying ending, though. I immediately settled down for a nap. -M
Profile Image for Wanda.
629 reviews
April 3, 2016
3 APR 2016 - Love, Love, Love this book. As a little girl, I carried this book everywhere. I did not know at that time that Ferdinand was all about seizing his day and enjoying it in the way most suitable to himself. Such a smart bull!

As I re-read a newly purchased copy yesterday, I thought of this lovely poem:

Gather Ye Rosebuds While Ye May, by John William Waterhouse (Source: Wikipedia)

"To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time" is a poem written by English Cavalier poet Robert Herrick in the 17th century. The poem is in the genre of carpe diem, Latin for seize the day. It goes as follows:

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old Time is still a-flying;
And this same flower that smiles today
To-morrow will be dying.
The glorious lamp of heaven, the sun,
The higher he's a-getting,
The sooner will his race be run,
And nearer he's to setting.
That age is best which is the first,
When youth and blood are warmer;
But being spent, the worse, and worst
Then be not coy, but use your time,
And, while ye may, go marry:
For having lost but once your prime,
You may forever tarry.

Carpe Diem, Ferdinand! You have inspired this not-so-young woman to live her life in this moment. No looking back to the past which cannot be undone nor looking ahead to the future which has not occured. Carpe Diem.
Profile Image for Melanie H..
3,803 reviews39 followers
May 30, 2012
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 bee and flying through the air, running, snorting and pawing the ground. Ferdinand is taken to the big bullring in Madrid. Many people are there along with many ladies with beautiful flowers in their hair. The Matador, Banderilleros and the Picadores all march into the ring, holding their spears and posturing. All are excited to see the bull get gored and blooded and finally die.

When the gates are opened to let the bull in, Ferdinand runs out, excited to be in such a grand place. The Matador, Banderilleros and Picadores were terrified that the bull was going to come after them immediately. Ferdinand ran to the middle of the ring, sat down and proceeded to enjoy the flower smell coming from the ladies. Finally everyone gives up and Ferdinand is returned to his pasture to enjoy his trees and flowers.
Profile Image for midnightfaerie.
1,947 reviews122 followers
July 1, 2013
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 only concern was that they fought over the stuffed animal and eventually it did have to go back to the library.
Profile Image for Erin Sky.
Author 5 books355 followers
August 1, 2017
One of my absolute favorite children's stories.
Profile Image for Emily.
119 reviews568 followers
January 24, 2019
Read this for Reading Partners. Not 5 stars because bullfighting makes me really, really sad, but this is a sweet story.
17 reviews1 follower
February 12, 2017
The story of Ferdinand, a very enjoyable story, by Munro Leaf tells the tale of a young bull named Ferdinand. Ferdinand grew up in a society’s where he was expected to take part in the Spanish bull fights in Madrid. Unlike all the other bulls, Ferdinand only wants to live in peace among the flowers and the open fields. As he grew, he became healthy and strong but with the same gentle heart as his young self. No matter what others say and expect from him, all he cares about is peace.
One of the most shocking things about this story is that it was written in 1936! It’s a very creative story that talks about pursuing what makes you happy and not what other want you to do. The world, and people, back then were very conservative, expecting their children to grow up and being certain things; this very interesting to see that this kind of message was exposed to children back then, decades ago. The story is well written too; for a story written over eighty years ago, it has aged well and can compete with more recent children’s books.
The story is told through the third person, omniscient, point of view. This severs the story well since you can see the thoughts and feeling of all the characters in the story. If it were told through the eyes of Ferdinand, the story would’ve been very different and more repetitive, considering the face that he spends most of his day looking at flowers. The most touching moment, in my opinion, was when Ferdinand’s mother accepted his choices without trying to make him reconsider; this wouldn’t have been known if not for the omniscient point of view.
The characters are not the most interesting, though. This is a children’s book and it’s fairly short; because of this, there isn’t a lot of time for character development and that’s understandable. Ferdinand is the most rounded character in the whole book. His feelings are very different to those of the other young bulls, making him unique and different. Not only that, he’s a very introverted character, something that I haven’t seen a lot in children’s books. The other bulls and the humans in the story are just flat characters. They have no redeeming traits and are in the story just to keep it going. The tricky character is the mother. She only shows up in the story in one scene, but it’s very meaningful. She reveals her thoughts and acceptance towards her son’s decisions making her a very real character.
The story relies heavily on the illustration to actually “tell” the story. If it weren’t for the illustrations, my reaction to the book would’ve not been so exciting. In fact, the illustrations are what make Ferdinand the rounded character that he is. It’s one thing to read that he’s grown up and another to actually see it. The illustrations let the reader see who Ferdinand is. Even though he’s this giant, tough bull, he has the same feeling he did as a child and no matter what, he’ll always be the same.
This story is great.
Profile Image for Phillip.
673 reviews49 followers
April 6, 2012
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-western town of approximately 32,000 residents. To me, Spain was a magical realm and the images of Robert Lawson provided sensory information of that place for my mind. I was so sheltered that I did not know crime existed in our town until I was well into high school. There were a lot of things about the real world around me that I was oblivious to.

The idea of the bull fight as something people actually did teased my mind. I understood the concept, but thought it was something that happened so long ago that it was a part of history. I did not believe the people I knew would kill an animal for sport in that way (I believed hunting was different, because the hunter makes the death quick, and he is justified to hunt because he eats the animal). I also could not believe the people in my town would watch such a spectacle. I remember extrapolating that the people of Bartlesville were no different from the people any place else. Yet, there was a story describing the bull fight as though everyone thought it was good fun. And there were the illustrations showing the people and culture as though they were real.

I didn't know what to think...And, poor Ferdinand. I was horrified.

I remember looking at the faces and hats of the five men, in the illustration, who searched for a bull for the arena. I imaged what they were like and what their conversation was upon seeing Ferdinand during his rampage. I followed them home in my mind to see what the houses would look like for men who were dressed like they were.

The corks hanging from the cork trees like fruit were a detail that really amused me. I discussed them with my mother.

I have since read that "The Story of Ferdinand" was a cast off Munro Leaf wrote in half an hour to give his friend Lawson a story to illustrate. Regardless of how much or how little thought Munro Leaf put into the story it is true that children like myself have enjoyed the story and empathized with the Bull Ferdinand for decades.

Throughout my life, every time I see a copy my heart leaps a little and I always want to open it to go into that world and see my old friend again. I love this book so much that I gave a copy to a colleague at her baby shower. It was an opportunity to share. I wish the enjoyment that I have gotten from that book upon every child.

Profile Image for Malina Skrobosinski.
240 reviews93 followers
January 12, 2020
What beautiful illustrations!

I'm not sure why I never read this as a child, and to be honest I don't think I ever even knew of this book until I was an adult. In truth, it saddens me. This is such a wonderful story about being who YOU want to be. I could see so many children relating to this. Just because you're born into something doesn't mean you have to follow that path.

Be like Ferdinand, choose your own path in life!
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