One Sunday afternoon in 1935, Leaf decided to write a children's story so that his close friend Robert Lawson (a relatively unknown illustrator) could show his talents. In less than one hour, Leaf composed the beloved 800-word story as it stands today, 68 years later.
When published by Viking in 1936 as The Story of Ferdinand, the book sparked controversy. With the Spanish Civil War waging, political critics charged that it was really a satirical attack on aggression. In Germany, Hitler order the book burned while fellow dictator Stalin granted it privileged status as the only non-communist children's book permitted. India's spiritual leader Ghandi called it his favorite book of all time. In spite this controversy, Spain and all the world embraced this peaceable bull.
Since Leaf's death, Ferdinand continues to charm children worldwide as this simple story is retold at bedtime in more than 60 languages.