The story of Ferdinand

by Munro Leaf

Other authorsRobert Lawson (Illustrator)
Hardcover, 1966



Call number



London : Hamish Hamilton, 1966.

User reviews

LibraryThing member MeditationesMartini
DO U KNOW FERDINAND?? With my spirited child I can feel my unconscious biases sliding insidiously toward "spirited" and away from "gentle," but this is the absolute classic story of a gentle flower-loving guy who ruins everyone's bloodsport by just being a sweetheart and also by "preferring not to," Bartlebianly.
LibraryThing member juliehrbacek
This is one of those books that you want to keep and read over and over again. It is filled with incredibly detailed pen and ink illustrations that tell the story all by themselves. The expressions of the characters are practically life-like. At one point, Ferdinand's mother is concerned about him and approaches him to talk. He raises his "hand" to fend off any conversation with her as a real teenager would likely do, making him seem even more loveable and real. It is easy to feel the gentleness of Ferdinand by watching the emotions drawn on his face and in his body language.
The landscape pictures are said to have been drawn to closely replicate the places and people of Spain.
The story and pictures of this book remind its audience that it is perfectly fine to not be easily riled. It is refreshing to see a strong and healthy male who would rather smell the flowers than fight.
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LibraryThing member AbigailAdams26
One of my all-time favorites from childhood, The Story of Ferdinand was a book that I read again and again. Munro Leaf's narrative about a bull who would rather sit still and smell the flowers than fight in the bull-ring (and given the inevitable outcome, who could blame him?), has the perfect blend of gentle humor and wisdom.

Take, for instance, the author's description of Ferdinand's mother, who is described as "an understanding mother, even though she was a cow." I chuckle every time I read this line, just as I experience a thrill of fellow-feeling every time I read about Ferdinand sitting in the middle of the bullring, appreciating the smell of all the ladies' flowers.

Robert Lawson's wonderfully expressive black and white drawings are the perfect complement to this fable about being yourself.
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LibraryThing member Treeseed
Written in 1936 this beautiful story of Ferdinand, a gentle calf that grows into a very large but peace-loving bull has enchanted millions of people and continues to do so to this day.
Robert Lawson of Rabbit Hill fame has done a great job with the black and white drawings of Ferdinand and his surroundings, filled with humorous details of the Spanish bull-fighting world.
Monro Leaf's tale shows what happens when a bumble bee's sting brings Ferdinand, unexpectedly to the attention of the bull ring scouts.
This book is always one of the first ones I buy for new babies among our family and friends. It's a true classic. Enjoy this sweet message about being yourself and make Ferdinand a friend for life.
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LibraryThing member t1bclasslibrary
Ferdinand the bull is not like other bulls, he just wants to sit around and smell the flowers. When the bullfighting people go to get a fierce bull, Ferdinand seems the fiercest after being stung by a bee, but he isn’t. At the arena, he just sits around smelling the flowers from the ladies’ hair and doesn’t fight, so he’s brought back to the country. I’m not sure why they don’t just slaughter him- perhaps the children will also wonder this.… (more)
LibraryThing member heatherjane7
Classic story of a gentle bull who would rather smell the flowers than fight. One of my childhood favourites.
LibraryThing member Amber_88
The Story of Ferdinand is a very cute example of fantasy! While bulls don't actually just sit around and smell flowers all the time, everyone can relate to being different and not fitting in with everyone else, yet being happy with who they are.
This story is too short to critique the setting, plot, or characters.… (more)
LibraryThing member maryanntherese
This is the story of a young bull who would rather do his own thing, (which in this case is sit and smell flowers), instead of what everyone else was doing (fighting in the bull fights). When he is chosen for the ring, he perseveres in being himself. I liked this book because it illustrates the virtue of sticking to your guns.… (more)
LibraryThing member Lakapp
“The Story of Ferdinand” written by Munro Leaf is a classic tale that is great to read to young students. The bull in the story, Ferdinand, was different from all the other bulls; most bulls loved to play, but Ferdinand just liked to sit alone and smell the flowers. His mother worried about him, but he seemed happy so she just let him be. One day, five men came to pick the biggest bill for the bull fights in Madrid, Spain; Ferdinand was picked and taken to the bull fight. Everyone thought Ferdinand would be fierce, but once he entered the ring, he sat down and smelled the flowers and then he was taken home. This is a great story, with a moral message, that would be appropriate for elementary students of all ages.… (more)
LibraryThing member whitneyharrison
Ferdinand is a funny story about a bull who was very different than all the other bulls, and he loved flowers. This book is a very funny story about how Ferdinand traveled all the way to Spain to compete in a bull arena.
LibraryThing member readasaurus
This is my favorite book from my childhood. Ferdinand, the pacifist bull who loves smelling flowers, is thrust into a Madrid bull-fighting ring. The black and white pictures are beautifully drawn. Munro Leaf's message about being true to yourself shows kids that it's okay to be different.
LibraryThing member michelleknudsen
A long book with a relatively short, simple (but satisfying) story. Ferdinand alone of all the bulls has no interest in fighting, but an accidental encounter with a bee leads to him catching the eye of the bullfight recruiters. They take him to the arena, he refuses to fight, they take him back home, he lives happily ever after.… (more)
LibraryThing member seoulful
A book that brings fond memories from my childhood as I read it to my grandchildren. Ferdinand is not like the other bulls who butt heads and stomp around. He likes to sit in his pasture and smell the flowers. One day, bitten by a bee, Ferdinand is mistaken as a ferocious bull by some procurers for the Madrid bullfights. But when Ferdinand is taken into the bullring, he sits down to enjoy the sweet-smelling flowers in the ladies' hair and to everyone's dismay, he refuses to fight. The moral, softly expressed by his mother, is to respect the differences in each child.… (more)
LibraryThing member kaylada3
This is a story of a bull who loves to sit under a tree. One day when the men who corral the bulls to fight came along, Ferdinad sat on a bee and caused the men to believe they had found the most ferocious bull that exists. However, when he got into the ring, the men found they were wrong. I am chosing to add this to my read aloud because the message behind it is that being who you are is much more important than being who others think you are.… (more)
LibraryThing member princessofthesea
Subject Area: Language Arts
Genre: Fantasy
The author's tale of a peaceful bull is an example of fantasy because the reader is shown the bull's thoughts and feelings. However, the setting is an accurate portrayal of traditional Spanish culture (Spain.)
(Stars for theme)
Age: Primary
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LibraryThing member caltstatt
The young bull Ferdinand was not like other young bulls who lived in Spain in the way he did not like to fight or butt heads. He would rather spend time by himself smelling flowers under his favorite tree. When they are all grown the other bulls begin showing off so they may be chosen to go to the great bull fight in Madrid. Ferdinand is mistakenly chosen because he absentmindedly sits on a bee while smelling the flowers and begins to go crazy, jumping and kicking. So he is hauled off to Madrid. When the time comes to enter the ring, there are thousands of people in the stand ready for the fight, but Ferdinand just wanders into the middle of the ring and smells the flowers that the ladies are wearing. Everyone is very mad and tries to get Ferdinand to fight, but to no avail. He is finally taken back to his pasture and released to sit under his tree where he may still be today.
I remember this story as one of my favorites when I was young. It doesn't seem to be read to children much anymore.
This story could be used in the classroom to discuss how being different is okay. Even though Ferdinand was enticed to fight, he did what he wanted no matter what anyone else thought. Children could view the story in this way and discuss how they are different from each other, in positive ways.
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LibraryThing member alimcc
Ferdinand is a very big bull. But he would rather sit under his favorite cork tree and smell the flowers than participate in the bullfights, so when he is taken from his home and put in the ring, will he stay true to who he is?

Ferdinand is the classic tale of the bull who wouldn’t fight. Although he is no wimp, Ferdinand would much rather spend his time enjoying the shade under his favorite cork tree and smelling the beautiful flowers than rough-housing with the other young bulls. It is his love for this pastime, however, that gets him in trouble when men from the bullfights in Madrid come looking for new participants. While smelling a flower, Ferdinand is stung by a bee, which sends him into a frenzy as he wildly attempts to escape his pursuer. Unfortunately, the five men from Madrid see this display and wrongly believe Ferdinand to be just what they are looking for. Once he is shipped off to Madrid to face a Matador, he must find a way to remain the quiet, peaceful bull he is.

The story’s ideas of valuing peace and tranquility over violence and Ferdinand’s pacifist attitude still resonate with readers today. Although set amidst the backdrop of a very bloody and violent traditional sport, Ferdinand’s story is ultimately one of peace. Robert Lawson’s illustrations help capture the serenity of Ferdinand’s life, and he manages to make a bull look tranquil and serene. Readers won’t be able to help feeling an emotional connection to this sweet bull.

Although it deals with what could be a gruesome subject matter, the story has a happy, satisfying ending, so parents should not fear reading this story will traumatize their children. The book is most suitable for children 4 and up when reading on their own, but it is also appropriate as a read-aloud book for younger kids.
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LibraryThing member sweetiegherkin
Even though it’s a well-known classic, I had somehow never heard of this book until earlier this year when an acquaintance brought it up during a discussion about children’s picture books. Of course, I had to go out and find it, and I’m happy to be introduced to this gem.

Unlike the other young bulls who like to run around and butt heads with one another, Ferdinand prefers to sit just quietly beneath his favorite cork tree in the pasture and smell the flowers. Unfortunately, an unhappy accident involving a bumblebee lands Ferdinand in the bullfight in Madrid. But when Ferdinand sees all the flowers in the ladies’ hair, he sits down to smell them and refuses to fight.

It’s a sweet story about being true to one’s self and not succumbing to the pressure to be like everyone else. Pacifist families may also use it as a jumping off point for discussing peace, and animal activists could use is a teaching tool when advocating against animal cruelty.

I found the delicate black and white illustrations by Robert Lawson lovely and enchanting, but must admit that my 3-year-old nephew showed little interest in the book and perhaps the lack of color illustrations may have played a role in that (or it may have just been that he was too distracted when I tried to read this to him). One of my favorite details was that the cork tree had cork stoppers hanging from it because that’s what small children would envision a cork tree to look like!
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LibraryThing member HairyGromwell
Truly a classic, and one of my favorites from an early age. The gentle bull who loved flowers, and whose sensitivity made him different reassured me that it was ok to prefer sitting and smelling the flowers to fighting and performing in search of fame and glory. The illustrations are truly wonderful.
LibraryThing member ReadAloudDenver
Originally published in 1936 (75 years anniversary in 2011!), this is the tale of Ferdinand, the peaceful and content bull who "liked to sit just quietly and smell the flowers" in his favorite spot under the cork tree. He had a wonderful mom who was "an understanding mother" that "let him just sit there and be happy."
LibraryThing member derbygirl
This story is just as I remembered as a child and I enjoyed rereading it as an adult. The pictures draw you in with their simple black and white lines. Ferdinand's mother and Ferdinand have human qualities in their facial expressions when interacting mimicking a true mother child relationship in their acceptance of each other and of the mother's worry regarding Ferdinand's choices. Humor is interjected when Ferdinand sits on the bee and is chosen as the bull to fight. The reader can feel the crowds frustration and surprise when Ferdinand reveals his true colors in the bull ring. It's a satisfying treat when Ferdinand is peaceably returned to his cork tree to pursue his true interest of smelling the flowers in the shade. Don't forget to smell the roses! Be true to one's self! These two inherent truths are relayed with humor and illustration and the story makes you smile with contentment of their realization at the end.… (more)
LibraryThing member mstuhan
This will be a read-aloud in my classroom, no matter what grade level I teach!
LibraryThing member daisycisneros
Characters: Ferdinand (Bull) a pacifist hero

Setting: Madrid, Spain (country side) and the Bull Ring

Theme: Bulls, Peace, Happiness and Traditions

Genre: Children's Fiction (Picture Book For Children)

Golden quote: “And for all I know he is sitting there still, under his favorite cork tree, smelling the flowers just quietly”

Audience: Children age 5 and up

Summary: 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 with watercolor tones added.
Ferdinand likes to sit quietly and smell the flowers, but one day he gets stung by a bee and his snorting and stomping convince everyone that he is the fiercest of bulls

Curriculum ties: Learning animals in this story there are many animals and students can count the images of animals. Create a class graph with the names and tallies of the animals you find in the story. Learning Spanish use flashcards to help your students learn the Spanish words for some of the vocabulary from El Cuento de Ferdinando (The Story of Ferdinand in Spanish). Encourage students to color the images on the flashcards. Explore Spanish Culture by introducing students to Spanish music. Flamenco music and dance are an exciting way to expose your students to Spanish culture. There are numerous websites that have Spanish songs and music for your classto enjoy.

Personal response: It is really good to break stereo types because most bulls are expected to be fighters and not pacifist. Most boys are expected to be strong fighters. The message of this book is very good because it shows that Ferdinand a strong powerful bbull only cared to sit and smell the roses.
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LibraryThing member aflanig1
A great story about self-acceptance
LibraryThing member dawnfires
This story talks about a bull who is very content being by himself and enjoying the smell of the flowers around him. All of Ferdinand friends wants to become bulls that fight in the Madrid, but not Ferdinand. By accident Ferdinand is chosen for the fight but does not do what he is told. Eventually Ferdinand finds his way back to his favorite pasture under his tree enjoying the smell of the flowers.

Personal Reaction:
I love this book and how it can make kids know that they do not have to be the one in the crowd and its ok to be alone sometimes. I like how it talks about spain and uses many spanish words in the story, this will make the students ask questions about the culture of Spain.

Classroom Extension Ideas:
1. I would love this book during multicultural week in the classroom. and discuss Spain and then try to see if any of the kids families were from Spain.
2. In the classroom we could celebrate the bull fighting festival in Madrid.
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