The Bronze Bow



When I taught fifth grade, I would have story time after recess. I chose excellent children’s novels and read for ten or fifteen minutes as we settled down from lunch and active play to the afternoon’s academic pursuits.

You may ask, “Fifth grade? Aren’t they a little old to be read to?” Not a bit. If our time got scrunched, I received a collective groan because I skipped our story. Each year, one of my never-miss books to read was The Bronze Bow.

Bronze Bow

If A Wrinkle in Time is my favorite children’s book overall, The Bronze Bow is my favorite inspirational children’s book. And I never read it until I was an adult!

Elizabeth George Speare brought history and Christian faith together as well as a beautiful plot line with several conflicts and resolutions. Set in first century, Rome-dominated Palestine, the reader can be sure that Jesus will show up. For the most part, He remains a shadowy figure while His disciple, Simon the Zealot, plays one of the secondary characters.

The protagonist, Daniel, is a teenager with a tragic past. He abhors the Romans with a passion almost to the point of obsession, yet we can see a pure heart underneath all the anger. As Daniel’s hatred endangers not only himself, but his entire village, he watches Jesus from a distance. Surely this man must be the Messiah, yet the man doesn’t call the Jews to revolt against Rome!

The book takes us on Daniel’s journey. We meet him as the follower of a Robin Hood type of thief. He progresses in maturity to realize that he needs to take responsibility for his own actions and he ought to take care of others, in particular, his little sister and a mute slave. When all is lost, he must make a choice between continuing his hatred or —

I can’t tell you that. You’ll have to guess what his choice is or read the book! And it’s not a stereotypical conversion scene to Christian faith.

Can you see why my students loved story time?

9 thoughts on “The Bronze Bow

  1. I remember my 5th grade teacher reading to us, too. Though the only book I remember her reading was James & the Giant Peach – Blegh! 😛

    I *love* The Bronze Bow! It’s an essential part of my book collection. Frankly, I tended to like everything I read by Elizabeth George Speare but The Bronze Bow was on a different level. It’s a fantastic read full of insight and a marvelous imagining into what it would have been like to be alive in that time period. It’s sad how few people have read it. (You can tell how much I like it – just look at all that effusive praise!)


    • sparksofember, you are a reader after my own heart! The more I thought about it, I ought to switch my favorites, with Bronze Bow being top overall.
      And you will never see me give a positive review of James and the Giant Peach. I found it to be the most mean-spirited story I had ever read when I was a kid. I never chose Roald Dahl’s books again.


      • I was actually researching audio books for this and The Robe the other day – pricing them to guess the odds that I can get our library to order them for my husband to read. The Bronze Bow is pretty cheap for an audio book. The Robe on the other hand…


  2. Linda, I’m so excited that I now have a good Christian YA book on my list of to-reads! Did you teach in a Christian school? (I am trying to imagine a secular curriculum being okay with the book being read) Another great adult book that brings you into the era seamlessly is The Red Tent.


    • Loraine,
      Since The Bronze Bow was the Newbery Medal winner, most libraries carry it, but I doubt most teachers in public school would choose it as one of their novels to read.
      I still teach part time, Spanish in elementary school. And I still read occasionally to my students — in Spanish! Translating it, of course.

      Like you, I found the red tent fascinating as to what the culture of Jacob’s time might have been like. I wasn’t sure if I liked the message of the book though, or maybe I perceived the author’s intentions incorrectly.


  3. I’ve never heard of the Bronze Bow. Headed to get a copy now…

    I remember being read to in 6th grade. Probably because I started crying at the end of Where the Red Fern grows and had to get up and get a kleenex in front of the whole class. Typical Lisa. 🙂


    • What a sweetheart! I’ll bet the others who were too proud to cry kind of envied you.

      You know what can be worse? Being the teacher who is crying in front of the class and trying to read the sad parts (or the extra happy parts) at the same time. I blubber through the last pages of The Bronze Bow every time.


  4. Pingback: The Scriblerians | Looking back and moving forward

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