Just in case there isn’t anyone who doesn’t know The Story of Ferdinand: Ferdinand was born to a long line of Famous Bulls who Fought Well in the Arena. The problem is that Ferdinand doesn’t WANT to fight in the bullring, he wants to sit under the cork trees surrounded by flowers and daydream; unfortunately (for Ferdinand), the talent scouts come to his particular meadow in his particular farm at the exact moment when Ferdinand and a bee try to occupy the same bit of shade. Ferdinand’s resulting leapings and snortings make him seem the Bravest Fightingest Bull around, and he’s the one taken away to Madrid…don’t worry. The book has a happy ending.
Our protagonist bull reverts to type once he arrives in the ring: peaceable daydreamy creature that he is, he has no idea why all those men are waving sharp objects at him and, enthralled with all the pretty ladies with their deliciously aromatic flowers…he sits down in the middle of the ring the better to sniff all the surroundings. Leaving the bullfighter in tears and the picadors tearing their mustachios out in frustration, Ferdinand is carted back to his farm and into his pasture, where presumably he is still to this day.
A book very much for the daydreamers among us, who can all sympathize with Ferdinand’s desire only to sit and sniff the flowers! How else would such a flower-sniffer react when presented with a bullfighting arena’s worth of senoritas adorned with flowers but to sit down in the middle of the ring and gaze about, enraptured? Doesn’t make for great drama in the ring, unless you’re a Ferdinand at heart. As I am. Long live Ferdinand!
Frankly, I’m not sure there IS another book quite like The Story of Ferdinand, but if anyone knows of any, please let me know! I’d love to read them. That said, both Munro Leaf and Robert Lawson wrote several books of their own and collaborated on Wee Gillis; of the two as authors, I think Lawson’s books have survived a bit better than Leaf’s though both are worth finding. Leaf’s books are for younger kids, on manners and behavior, while Lawson’s are chapter books–he did primarily books about animals. Rabbit Hill is sweet, though for palatable history lessons about the Revolutionary War, I can recommend Mr. Revere and I and Ben and Me.