Review: The Bell Rang by James E. Ransome

the bell rang by james e. ransome

The Bell Rang by James E. Ransome (9781442421134)

This new book from a Coretta Scott King Award winner is a stunning look at slavery and freedom. Told over the course of a week, the book depicts the monotony and toll of the grueling work that never changes or abates. On each day, the bell rings to wake them and the narrator’s older brother indicates that he is going to leave and run away to freedom. Each touch of his hands says it, he says it aloud and he leaves her a gift. When he does run, the days become even harder, being unable to eat and unable to stop crying because he is missed and he is in danger. When the other boys who ran away with him are brought back and whipped, he is still free. And another week begins.

Ransome is a master storyteller and his skill is evident the verse in this picture book. Told with a spareness that allows readers no ability to look away or take solace in niceties, the book lays bare the human cost of slavery and what it takes to escape to freedom. The book is abundant in family love with all of the family taking time to be kind to one another and love one another through difficult and impossible situations.

The illustrations are just as powerful as the text. They illuminate the lives of this family, focusing on the people who are enslaved. Many of the scenes are filled with love and grace. But they are all shadowed by slavery and lack of freedom.

A harrowing look at slavery and freedom, this picture book reveals the truth of our American history. Appropriate for ages 6-8.

Reviewed from copy provided by Atheneum.

2019 USBBY Outstanding International Books

USBBY

The United States Board on Books for Young People (USBBY) has announced their annual list of the most outstanding international books for young people published during the calendar year. Here is their 2019 list:

GRADES PreK-2

Africville Auntie Luce’s Talking Paintings

Africville by Shauntay Grant, illustrated by Eva Campbell

Auntie Luce’s Talking Paintings by Francie Latour

A Case for Buffy (Detective Gordon #4) A Drop of the Sea

A Case for Buffy by Ulf Nilsson, illustrated by Gitte Spee

A Drop of the Sea by Ingrid Chabbert, illustrated by Guridi

Farmer Falgu Goes to the Market 35959973

Farmer Falgu Goes to the Market by Chitra Soundar, illustrated by Kanika Nair

I Really Want to See You, Grandma by Taro Gomi

Marwan's Journey Me And My Fear

Marwan’s Journey by Patricia de Arias, illustrated by Laura Borras

Me and My Fear by Francesca Sanna

On the Other Side of the Garden The Patchwork Bike

On the Other Side of the Garden by Jairo Buitrago, illustrated by Rafael Yockteng

Patchwork Bike by Maxine Beneba, illustrated by Van Thanh Rudd

Stories of the Night Tomorrow

Stories of the Night by Kitty Crowther

Tomorrow by Nadine Kaadan

Up the Mountain Path

Up the Mountain Path by Marianne Dubuc

 

GRADES 3-5

After Life: Ways We Think about Death Astrid the Unstoppable

After Life: Ways We Think about Death by Merrie-Ellen Wilcox

Astrid the Unstoppable by Maria Parr, illustrated by Katie Harnett

The Colors of History: How Colors Shaped the World Eye Spy: Wild Ways Animals See the World

The Colors of History: How Colors Shaped the World by Clive Gifford, illustrated by Marc-Etienne Peintre

Eye Spy: Wild Ways Animals See the World by Guillaume Duprat, illustrated by Patrick Skipworth

From the Heart of Africa: A Book of Wisdom Go Show the World: A Celebration of Indigenous Heroes

From the Heart of Africa: A Book of Wisdom by Eric Walters

Go Show the World: A Celebration of Indigenous Heroes by Wab Kinew, illustrated by Joe Morse

The House of Lost and Found Missing Mike

The House of Lost and Found by Martin Widmark, illustrated by Emilia Dziubak

Missing Mike by Shari Green

Peace and Me The Sound of Freedom

Peace and Me by Ali Winter, illustrated by Mickael El Fathi

The Sound of Freedom by Kathy Kacer

A Story Like the Wind Too Young to Escape

A Story Like the Wind by Gill Lewis, illustrated by Jo Weaver

Too Young to Escape by Van Ho & Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch

Vacation What a Wonderful Word

Vacation by Blexbolex

What a Wonderful Word by Nicola Edwards, illustrated by Luisa Uribe

 

GRADES 6-8

Dodger Boy Ebb and Flow

Dodger Boy by Sarah Ellis

Ebb & Flow by Heather Smith

The Fox Girl and the White Gazelle The Island at the End of Everything

The Fox Girl and the White Gazelle by Victoria Williamson

The Island at the End of Everything by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

Mary, Who Wrote Frankenstein No Fixed Address

Mary Who Wrote Frankenstein by Linda Bailey, illustrated by Julia Sarda

No Fixed Address by Susin Nielsen

Small Things Swallow's Dance

Small Things by Mel Tregonning

Swallow’s Dance by Wendy Orr

Voices from the Second World War: Stories of War as Told to Children of Today

Voices from the Second World War: Stories of War as Told to Children of Today

 

GRADES 9-12

Skating Over Thin Ice Troublemakers

Skating over Thin Ice by Jean Mills

Troublemakers by Catherine Barter

We Kiss Them With Rain

We Kiss Them with Rain by Futhi Ntshingila