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The Apple and the Arrow

post written by Emma Filbrun

The Apple and the Arrow by Mary and Conrad BuffTitle: The Apple and the Arrow
Author: Mary and Conrad Buff
Major Themes: Switzerland, William Tell
Synopsis: When William Tell revolts against an unjust ruler, and is sentenced to shoot an apple off his son’s head, can young Walter be brave enough?

The Apple and the Arrow is one of those books I probably would have never read were it not for Sonlight Curriculum. Since we have been using Sonlight for many years, however, I’ve read it aloud at least three times now. My children have loved it every time. It’s a book that contains a fair amount of violence, which is not what I prefer to read to them. However, justice prevails; good is very good and evil is very evil, and the good guys win.

Set in Switzerland in the late 13th century, The Apple and the Arrow tells the story of William Tell. Young Walter loves and admires his father. He wants to learn to shoot an arrow as well as his father. He knows there is a lot happening below the surface of life in the mountains, and that his father hates the unjust ruler of the canton. Things come to a head one day when Walter and William go to the village on an errand.

Gessler, the wicked man in charge of the land of Uri, has put his cap on a pole and ordered that everyone who passes by bow to it. William Tell will not bow to a hat, so he is ordered to shoot, with his long bow and arrow, an apple set on the head of his son. Will he hit the arrow—or will he kill his son? When he is taken captive by Gessler’s men and sent to a dungeon, what will happen to the mountain people’s plans to revolt against Gessler?

WARNING: There is violence in several places throughout the story. At one point, a man is killed.

Age Levels:

Read Aloud—Ages 5 – 8
Reading Independently—Ages 7 – 9, 8 – 12


Links to buy The Apple and the Arrow:

Amazon: Paperback | Hardcover

AbeBooks: View Choices on

Book Depository: Paperback


Switzerland, William Tell

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