The Apple Orchard Riddle


Silver Spring, MD, October 1, 2013 —  It is field trip day for Mr. Tiffin’s class, and it is off to the apple orchard. Once at the orchard the class meets Farmer Hills who gives them a riddle to solve as they tour the orchard, “Show me a little red house with no windows and no door, but with a star inside.” The class heads into the orchard with the riddle in their minds looking for clues as they learn about apples.

First, they see the trees in the orchard and learn about the how different types of apples ripen at different times. Then they are given bags and taught to pick apples from the trees.  But they were not closer to finding a solution to the riddle. Then they saw the apple storage shed, but decided even though it was red, it could not be the answer to the riddle because it had doors. Next was the cider press, where the children learned how cider was made. Then it was onto the apple peeler, it peeled the fruit in a flash. There were no doors or windows there, but there was also no star inside. Finally, it was onto the farm stand where the children got to sample cider and cider doughnuts.

One child who had been quiet most of the trip was examining an apple core. When it was time to try to answer the riddle she stepped forward, explaining that apples were red and homes to worms. Then she went onto to show how if the apple was cut in half there was a star inside created by the seeds in the core.  The class cheered as they boarded the bus to go home.

Photo by Robynlou Kavanagh.


This is a good book for those looking for seasonal stories. Not only does the story teach about how an orchard operates, there is a fun little picture guide inside the cover that helps you identify several different types of apples. At the end of the story is a fact sheet about apple orchards that provides some interesting tidbits that are not included in the body of the story.

In a world where more and more children think that their food comes from the grocery store and do not think beyond to the farm or field, this book is a good instructional guide to where apples come from and apple products are made. Written for ages 4-8, this would also be a good book to read prior to a trip to a pick-your-own farm or making a seasonal goody like an apple pie or a caramel covered apple.

Photo by J. Aaron Farr. Click to enlarge.


Author Margaret McNamara has written dozens of children’s books, many of which have some sort of educational or instructional quality to them. Illustrator G. Brian Karas has had prior books named anAmerican Library Association Notable Book and a Boston Globe/Horn Book Honor Book. His drawings are simple and relatable to children.

The Apple Orchard Riddle (ISBN: 978-0375-84744-8) by Margaret McNamara and illustrated by G. Brian Karas was published by Schwatz & Wade Books on July 9, 2013. It is available as a hardcover or an ebook.

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