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And Round Me Rings: Bell Tales and Folklore    by Ann Spencer order for
And Round Me Rings
by Ann Spencer
Order:  USA  Can
Tundra, 2003 (2003)
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Ever enjoyed the sound of church bells or sleigh bells, and wondered about them? Ann Spencer has put together a collection of over fifty fascinating short accounts (lore and legends, true stories, poems and songs) on the subject of bells in And Round Me Rings.

Tales are organized into categories from 'Elemental Peals' to 'Ringing Away Dark Forces', 'Miracles and Wonder', the making of bells, bells in daily life, and 'Up in the Belfry'. Though a few (such as the story of Dick Whittington and the Bells of Bow, the history of The Liberty Bell, and the song Oranges and Lemons) are familiar, most were new to me.

I especially enjoyed bell tales involving animals - a re-telling of the Aesop's fable on Belling the Cat, the bovine element in The Ghostly Flood Bell, and one in which The Bell of Justice Rings for an old horse. The Soul of the Great Bell is a charming Chinese legend about 'Ko-ai crying out for her lost slipper', and Ting, Tong and Pluff an amusing one set in rural England.

These stories give us vampires and pirates; bells that fight demons, fend off storms, and ring away the plague; stolen bells that protest and punish; bells in wartime; bells that discern truth and recognize the holy; even the words of Buddha. The Curfew Bell explains the origins of the word in early fire prevention, and there are many more applications of bell ringing, some quite surprising.

If you've ever wondered about bells, then you'll enjoy dabbling in bell facts and songs, lore and legend, in And Round Me Rings.

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