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by Munro Leaf

Once upon a time in Spain
there was a little bull and his
name was Ferdinand.

All the other little bulls he
lived with would run and jump
and butt their heads together,
but not Ferdinand.

He liked to sit just quietly and
smell the flowers.

He had a favorite spot out in
the pasture under a cork tree.

It was his favorite tree and he
would sit in its shade all day
and smell the flowers.

Sometimes his mother, who
was a cow, would worry about
him. She was afraid he would
be lonesome all by himself.

“Why don’t you run and play
with the other little bulls and
skip and butt your head?” she
would say.

But Ferdinand would shake
his head. “I like it better here
where I can sit just quietly and
smell the flowers.”

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.

As the years went by,
Ferdinand grew and grew until he
was very big and strong.

All the other bulls who had
grown up with him in the same
pasture would fight each other
all day. They would butt each
other and stick each other with
their horns. What they wanted
most of all was to be picked
to fight at the bull fights in

But not Ferdinand–he still
liked to sit just quietly under
the cork tree and smell the

One day five men came in very
funny hats to pick the biggest,
fastest roughest bull to fight
in the bull fights in Madrid.

All the other bulls ran around
snorting and butting, leaping
and jumping so the men would
think that they were very very
strong and fierce and pick them.

Ferdinand knew that they
wouldn’t pick him and he
didn’t care. So he went out
to his favorite cork tree to
sit down.

He didn’t look where he was
sitting and instead of sitting
on the nice cool grass in the
shade he sat on a bumble bee.

Well, if you were a bumble
bee and a bull sat on you what
would you do? You would
sting him. And that is just what
this bee did to Ferdinand.

Wow! Did it hurt! Ferdinand
jumped up with a snort. He
ran around puffing and snorting,
butting and pawing the
ground as if he were crazy.

The five men saw him and they
all shouted with joy. Here was
the largest and fiercest bull of
all. Just the one for the bull
fights in Madrid!

So they took him away for the
bull fight day in a cart.

What a day it was! Flags were
flying, bands were playing…
and all the lovely ladies had
flowers in their hair.

They had a parade into the
bull ring.

First came the Banderilleros
with long sharp pins with
ribbons on them to stick in
the bull and make him mad.

Next came the Picadores who
rode skinny horses and they
had long spears to stick in the
bull and make him madder.

Then came the Matador, the
proudest of all–he thought he
was very handsome, and bowed
to the ladies. He had a red cape
and a sword and was supposed
to stick the bull last of all.

Then came the bull, and you
know who that was don’t you?

They called him Ferdinand
the Fierce and all of the
Banderilleros were afraid of him and
the Picadores were afraid of
him and the Matador was
scared stiff.

Ferdinand ran to the middle of
the ring and everyone shouted
and clapped because they
thought he was going to fight
fiercely and butt and snort
and stick his horns around.

But not Ferdinand. When he
got to the middle of the ring
he saw the flowers in all the
lovely ladies’ hair and he just
sat down quietly and smelled.

He wouldn’t fight and be fierce
no matter what they did. He
just sat and smelled. And the
Banderilleros were mad and
the Picadores were madder and
the Matador was so mad he
cried because he couldn’t show
off with his cape and sword.

So they had to take Ferdinand

And for all I know he is sitting
there still, under his favorite
cork tree, smelling the flowers
just quietly.

He is very happy.