The Bell Rang

by James Ransome

A predictable daily routine defines the life of a small girl whose family is enslaved... read more

A predictable daily routine defines the life of a small girl whose family is enslaved in the American South. Their day begins when the bell is rung each morning, but everything changes when her older brother runs away with two of his friends. Most books about escape from slavery focus on the person running away, but this picture book offers the unusual perspective of the family left behind. The powerful narrative uses just a few words to pack in intense emotions: fear and hope. The oppressive routine of slave labor is structured by the days of the week, with Monday through Wednesday relentlessly predictable, making Thursday, the day of the brother’s escape, all the more dramatic. The large font is laid out on the page like lines of poetry, making it easy to read, and the accompanying illustrations show so much of the young girl’s emotions. The final, arresting page spread shows the girl looking back at the bell, opposite an image of a bird in flight. (Ages 7–10)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2020

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