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Roland Zoss & Jimmy Flitz
No sooner has Roland Zoss started singing the rock-inflected chorus than the assembled four- to nine-year-olds join in unison: “Jimmy Flitz, Jimmy Flitz ...” Every child in German-speaking Switzerland is familiar with the adventures, sung in dialect, of mouse Jimmy Flitz and his animal friends. Zoss, from Berne, is one of a small number of children’s singer-songwriters in Switzerland – and probably the busiest of them all. Twenty years ago, he gave up his teaching job and decided to work as a children’s entertainer. This courageous move paid off. Through songs, concert tours, audio musical recordings, a Christmas musical and several picture and storybooks, Zoss has created a parallel children’s fantasy world. Cheeky but likeable mouse Jimmy Flitz, who lives in the spire of Berne Cathedral, is Zoss’s most popular character. Characterising Jimmy as a ‘Swiss mouse’ wearing a red-and-white-hooped pullover was a shrewd master stroke. Swiss Post issued a stamp in the mouse’s honour, while the Swiss tourist board Switzerland Tourism adopted Jimmy as its Swiss ‘ambassador’. “But it was on the Aeolian Islands that I noticed,” grins Zoss. Each year, the musician and author spends a few months on the archipelago situated off the north of Sicily. Zoss, a father himself, likes to do his bit for society. His works contain messages about friendship, self-confidence and environmental conservation. Xenegugeli the tousle-haired dinosaur teaches children the alphabet – the digital app is available in five languages. “Make sure you mention the app – your readers might be interested,” suggests Zoss, who has won prizes and collaborated with A-listers from the Swiss music scene. This summer will see Zoss turning 68, but he intends to continue giving concerts. A new Jimmy Flitz storybook is also due to be published. “I love doing what I do – it keeps me young,” he says in a pleasant baritone.