The Definitive Guide to

The Bell Rang

Written & illustrated by James E. Ransome
4.88 / 7.0
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Goodreads Rating - 4.4 / 5.0
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What's The Bell Rang About

Publisher Summary

A Kirkus Reviews Best Picture Book of 2019

A young slave girl witnesses the heartbreak and hopefulness of her family and their plantation community when her brother escapes for freedom in this brilliantly conceived picture book by Coretta Scott King Award winner James E. Ransome.

Every single morning, the overseer of the plantation rings the bell. Daddy gathers wood. Mama cooks. Ben and the other slaves go out to work. Each day is the same. Full of grueling work and sweltering heat. Every day, except one, when the bell rings and Ben is nowhere to be found. Because Ben ran. Yet, despite their fear and sadness, his family remains hopeful that maybe, just maybe, he made it North. That he is free.

An ode to hope and a powerful tribute to the courage of those who ran for freedom, The Bell Rang is a stunning reminder that our past can never be forgotten.

What Kind of Book is The Bell Rang

Quotes from The Bell Rang

  • “We sing. We hope. We pray Ben made it.”
  • “Mama crying. No Ben. Daddy crying. Ben ran.”

Trusted Reviews & Ratings

The Book Snob Mom
Mom of boys. Lover of Harry Potter, Jane Austen and believes one can never own too many children's books!
4.75 / 7.0
Mom of Boys
Mom of three little boys who love books about dragons, whangdoodles and magic.
4.75 / 7.0
B is for Bookworm
Book-loving mommy-to-be! Recently enjoyed The Hobbit, Becoming, and The Marvelous Magic of Miss Mabel.
5.0 / 7.0
The Goodfather
Favorite pastime? Reading with my kids. Just finished Nana Cracks the Case!
5.0 / 7.0

Book Lists That Include The Bell Rang

Book Topics › African Americans
Children's Books About African Americans
Book Topics › prejudice and racism
Children's Books About Prejudice And Racism
Book Topics › family life
Children's Books About Family Life
Book Topics › slavery
Children's Books About Slavery
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Who Wrote The Bell Rang

author & illustrator
James E. Ransome

James E. Ransome’s highly acclaimed illustrations for Before She Was Harriett received the 2018 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor. His other award-winning titles include Coretta Scott King Honor Book Uncle Jed’s Barbershop; Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt; and Let My People Go, winner of the NAACP Image Award. He frequently collaborates with his wife, author Lesa Cline-Ransome. Some of their titles include Game Changers: The Story of Venus Serena Williams, which received four starred reviews; My Story, My Dance: Robert Battle’s Journey to Alvin Ailey; and Words Set Me Free: The Story of Young Frederick Douglass. Mr. Ransome teaches illustration at Pratt Institute and lives in upstate New York with his family. Visit James at

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What Has James E. Ransome Said About The Bell Rang

Nothing yet! 🤷 You should let James know that you want more details about The Bell Rang!

James E. Ransome's Book Dedication

To Tom Feelings and his Middle Passage, and to a true role model, Ida Williams Thomspon.

What Do Critics Say About The Bell Rang

  • Starred Review

    “With spare text and gorgeous illustrations, this work represents a unique and engaging perspective on enslaved families.”

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  • “Stories about escaping people often follow the journeys of those leaving; this one imagines what life was like for a family left behind.”

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Did The Bell Rang Win Any Awards

You bet it did. Check them out below!

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Book Details

Publication Date:
January 15, 2019
Text Details:
The text for this book was set in Archer
Illustration Details:
The illustrations for this book were rendered in acrylics.
Word Count:
Library of Congress Number (LCCN):
WorldCat Number (OCLC):
Accelerated Reader Points:
ATOS Book Level:
Accelerated Reader Interest Level:

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