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A Bell for Ursli (1945)

by Selina Chönz, Alois Carigiet (Illustrator)

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993215,482 (3.94)1
A Swiss boy succeeds in finding a large bell to ring in the spring festival.
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this is such a good book! I think it is another good way to incorporate worldly books into the classroom. I think it taught a really good lesson about overcoming obstacles and perseverance. ( )
  s_cat1 | Oct 14, 2018 |
Originally published in 1945 as Uorsin, this classic Romansch-Swiss picture-book presents the story of a young boy named Ursli, and the overnight Alpine adventure that results from his determination to carry one of the larger bells, in his village's annual Procession of the Bells, held to drive out Winter, and welcome in Spring. Told in rhyming couplets, the tale follows Ursli as, chores completed, he rushes to his Uncle Gian's farmhouse with the other boys, only to come up with the smallest, tinkliest bell of all! Determined not to be a laughing-stock, Ursli heads for his family's summer hut, on the mountainside, where he knows he can find a very large bell indeed...

I enjoyed A Bell for Ursli, not least because it depicted a cultural tradition with which I was entirely unfamiliar - knowing nothing of the pastoral lifestyle, or seasonal village customs of the Engadine - in a way that fit naturally into an engaging story about a little boy. The narrative itself felt a little forced, with a rhyme-scheme that didn't always convince me, but I set that down to translation. The illustrations, done by Alois Carigiet, have a vintage style and aesthetic sensibility that feel very appropriate for the story. All in all, an engaging book! I think my own response was somewhat less enthusiastic than I had hoped, given this book's status as a "classic," but I was sufficiently impressed that I will seek out Selina Chönz and Alois Carigiet's Florina and the Wild Bird. ( )
1 vote AbigailAdams26 | Apr 7, 2013 |
A Swiss picture book, illustrated by famous Swiss painter Alois Carigiet (the poetic narrative was written by Selina Chönz, a poet from the Engadine Valley of Switzerland, and the original Romansch title might have been Uorsin). The story itself describes how young Ursli treks alone to his family's summer hut in order to find a large cowbell that he can use for the Chalanda-Marz procession, where Engadine children parade through the towns ringing cowbells to signify the end of winter. The poetic story and the beautiful illustrations therefore do not only relate an adventurous exploit, they also describe the traditional lifestyle and culture of the Engadine Valley.

Schellen-Ursli: Ein Engadiner Bilderbuch has been translated into English as A Bell for Ursli: A Story from the Engadine in Switzerland (and please note that I have only ever read this story in German) and I would recommend it to anyone who likes poetic picture books that have been illustrated by famous artists as well as anyone interested in the culture and lifestyle of Switzerland. Truly magical (and since this was one of my favourite picture books when I was a child, I am, of course, rather biased with regard to this book). ( )
  gundulabaehre | Mar 31, 2013 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Selina Chönzprimary authorall editionscalculated
Carigiet, AloisIllustratormain authorall editionsconfirmed

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Hoch in den Bergen, weit von hier,
da wohnt ein Büblein so wie ihr.
In diesem Dörfchen, arm und klein,
ganz unten steht sein Haus allein.
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A Swiss boy succeeds in finding a large bell to ring in the spring festival.

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A little boy named Ursli lives in the Swiss Alps, and he must find a big cowbell so that he can lead the spring procession through his village. He goes alone to his family's chalet high up in the mountains and, there, he spends a lonely, scary night.
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