Ferdinandus Taurus

Once upon a time, there lived in Spain a bull named Ferdinand. While his brothers liked to charge around the field, butt their heads together, and to generally act ferocious, Ferdinand liked nothing better than to sit under the cork tree and smell the flowers. He was, you see, a placid and a gentle bull whose only desire in life was to be let alone. And his life would have proceeded very nicely had he not one day placed his considerable rump on a bumblebee on the very same day that five men arrived from Madrid searching for a new star for the corrida.

This classic tale by Munro Leaf, which has enchanted children for over fifty years, is here translated for the first (and certainly the last) time into (mirabile dictu) Latin. It comes with a complete glossary of words, and, of course, with the wonderful, appropriate, and droll drawings from the pen of the inimitable Robert Lawson (for whom the book was originally written).

Wilbur Monroe Leaf was born in Maryland and educated at the University of Maryland and Harvard University. After receiving his master’s degree in English, he began writing and illustrating children’s books, completing an average of one book a year throughout his forty-year career. His most famous book is The Story of Ferdinand, which stirred controversy in the 1930s political milieu because of its pacifist themes. Ferdinand has been translated into countless languages and adapted for film and opera.

A longtime secondary school Latin teacher in New York City, Elizabeth Chamberlayne Hadas is also remembered for her Latin translation of Ferdinand the Bull, the classic children’s book by Munro Leaf.

Robert Lawson’s witty, inventive illustrations are even more sought after today than they were during his lifetime. He illustrated dozens of beloved picture books, including Mr. Popper’s Penguins and They Were Strong and Good, the latter of which won a Caldecott Medal. He also wrote seventeen children’s books and won the Newbery Medal for his 1945 novel Rabbit Hill, making him the only person to win both of America’s most prestigious awards for children’s literature. Born in New York City, Lawson grew up in Montclair, New Jersey and studied at Parsons School of Design. He spent his later years in Westport, Connecticut, where an annual conference is held in his honor.