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William Tell (1996)

by Leonard Everett Fisher

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Recounts how the legendary Swiss folk hero was forced to shoot an apple from his son's head by the tyrannical Austrian governor Gessler.

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Author/illustrator Leonard Everett Fisher, who has retold many myths and folktales for children in his long career, here presents the legend of William Tell, the Swiss folk hero celebrated for shooting an apple off of his own son's head. Opening in 1307, when Gessler, the brutal Austrian governor of the Swiss town of Altdorf, made the townsfolk bow to his hat, the story follows Tell's refusal to obey, and the punishment meted out to him. After the famous incident in which Tell succeeds in shooting the apple, the book concludes with a brief summary of his adventures thereafter: from escaping imprisonment, by jumping out of a boat carrying him to the prison, to slaying Gessler, thereby freeing the area...

Although I am familiar with his work, William Tell is the first of Fisher's books that I have picked up. I was prompted to do so by my recent reading of Margaret Early's William Tell, which offers another picture-book retelling of the legend, as I wanted to compare that book to other versions. On the whole, I prefer Early's version, which draws in far more of the history - the Rütlischwur, and the foundation of the Old Swiss Confederacy - and feels more authentic to me. I do appreciate Fisher's telling however, and his somewhat dark-toned, but beautiful illustrations. I particularly liked his use of color here, and found his human faces expressive, if a little bit odd at times. Although not my favorite, this is still a solid retelling of the legend, and is one I would recommend to young folklore lovers, and to anyone looking for stories about William Tell for the picture-book set. ( )
  AbigailAdams26 | Aug 7, 2020 |
Herr Gessler is the governor of the town William Tell and his son Jemmy lived. He was an evil man, who set unjust rules for his country. One day he decides to make all the towns people kneel before his hat. It takes William Tell to stand up to him, to bring justice to his people. ( )
  Janee23 | Oct 15, 2012 |
This book was about William Tell who was Swiss. He was asked to shoot a apple off his own son head because he disobeyed his ruler. If he doesn't shoot the apple off, his son will die. ( )
  Ronneisha | Apr 30, 2012 |
Part C/traditional literature

This legend tells of William Penn, a Swiss man who stands up to the Australian Hapsburg rulers. He faces the consequence for defying against these rulers: he has to shoot an apple off from his son's head. If Penn succeeds, the Swiss people will be free from the Australian Hapsburg rulers. However, if he misses the apple, his son, Jemmy, will die.

The target audience will be grades 1 to 3. I think the book is okay--I will recommend it to my students. The book is borrowed from a public library; it is worth reading.

The stunning paintings adeptly complements the vigorous text.
  ptnguyen | Jul 23, 2010 |
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For my granddaugther, Lauren Nicole, with love
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High above Gessler Square, the Town Hall bell clanged furiously.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Recounts how the legendary Swiss folk hero was forced to shoot an apple from his son's head by the tyrannical Austrian governor Gessler.

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Recounts how the legendary Swiss folk hero was forced to shoot an apple from his son's head by the tyrannical Austrian governor Gessler.

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