I Know a Shy Fellow Who Swallowed a Cello

( 1 )

Overview

He's shy, a wallflower. He's the man at the side of the room listening to a duet for cello and viola. Even now you wouldn't notice him. But our shy fellow suddenly has an urge to swallow a cello, which is precisely what he does. And he doesn't stop there. He follows it with a harp, a sax, and a fiddle. On and on he goes, trying to satisfy his voracious appetite for musical instruments. A strange diet, you say? It's the perfect diet for a ...

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Overview

He's shy, a wallflower. He's the man at the side of the room listening to a duet for cello and viola. Even now you wouldn't notice him. But our shy fellow suddenly has an urge to swallow a cello, which is precisely what he does. And he doesn't stop there. He follows it with a harp, a sax, and a fiddle. On and on he goes, trying to satisfy his voracious appetite for musical instruments. A strange diet, you say? It's the perfect diet for a strange fellow, a strange, shy fellow.

Barbara S. Garriel lives in Bayville, New York. This is her first book.

John O'Brien is also the author and illustrator of Mother Hubbard's Christmas, which Booklist calls "a yuk-filled read-aloud." He lives in Delran, New Jersey.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Instead of an old woman who swallows a fly, this droll cumulative tale introduces a shy fellow who swallows a cello. "I don't know why he swallowed the cello," says the narrator, "Perhaps he'll bellow." The tall, mouse-like protagonist swallows "a harp to jam with the cello," a sax to join the harp, and so on, until he eventually burps up not only the cello, but also the other instruments one by one. Like Terry Gilliam's Monty Python animation, O'Brien's (Poof!) pen-and-ink drawings with watercolor wash are delightfully outr and full of sly humor. The mischievous fellow resembles a scrawny Ichabod Crane, and as he grows larger, his spindly body matches the shape of each musical instrument he ingests (cutaway views show the accumulating orchestra). O'Brien also injects some amusing subplots: the harp that the man swallows belongs to an Irish dancing troupe, and he takes a cymbal from a marching band performing during halftime on the football field. The six spreads that each feature the regurgitation of an instrument make the last bellow of the cello seem almost anticlimactic. First-time author Garriel's text brims with clever rhymes and at times irregular rhythms. "Not so nimble," says the unseen narrator, "to swallow a cymbal.... Strange thing to do, swallow a kazoo." But the good-natured fun will appeal to music lovers and fans of silly stories. Ages 5-8. (Apr.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
In this variation of "The Old Woman Who Swallowed a Fly," we do not know why he swallowed a cello either; "Perhaps he'll bellow." As musical instrument follows musical instrument down his throat, the story gets ever more absurd. He swallows a harp: "Not so sharp, to swallow harp./ He swallowed the harp to jam with the cello..." and so it goes. The fellow moves from concert to parade to birthday party, swallowing as he goes. But when he swallows the "teeniest, tiniest, petite cascabel," his belly finally rebels. Out everything cascades, "...and last but not least,/ out cha-chaed the cello!" Scenes showing the sources of the ingested instruments look relatively normal, peopled with reasonably representational folks engaged in music making, including a swinging jazz ensemble, a sedate chamber group, and a mustachioed country trio. The artist's scratchy pen strokes and watercolor washes add a sense of movement. But of course, it is what happens to our hero as these bulky objects load up his insides that really hits our funny-bones. He keeps getter larger and lumpier with each ingestion until, in a hilarious sequence of exploding pages, he disgorges all the instruments and we finally see them played by a representative of each musical group. 2004, Boyds Mills, Ages 5 to 8.
—Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 2-This goofy adaptation of "I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly" begins, "I know a shy fellow-/-who swallowed a cello./I don't know why he swallowed a cello./Perhaps he'll bellow." The instruments the man guzzles come from a wide variety of venues, including a sax from a jazz ensemble, a fiddle from a rockabilly band, and a kazoo from a child's birthday party. When he imbibes "the teeniest, tiniest, petite cascabel," his belly finally rebels and out of his mouth "jingled the bell," "buzzed the kazoo," "tooted the flute," etc., until "-last but not least,/out cha-chaed the cello!" This is a high-spirited and amusing story, and most of the rhythms work well. O'Brien's dynamic cartoons, highlighted with energetic pen-and-ink lines, vibrate with color and action. The main character continually changes shape to reflect the proportions of each instrument he consumes, and his antics are a good match for this silly but enjoyable romp.-Shelley B. Sutherland, Niles Public Library District, IL Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Surreal illustrations add disturbing and enjoyable vigor to this adaptation of "I Know an Old Woman Who Swallowed a Fly." The shy fellow is listening to a string duet when, much to the consternation of the cellist, he swallows the cello-"perhaps he'll bellow." This strange gentleman, now shaped like the cello he has swallowed, follows up with the harp from an Irish dance troupe, the saxophone from a jazz band, a cowboy's fiddle, a marching band's cymbal, the flute from a revolutionary war piper, and a birthday party's kazoo. With each addition to his strange meal, the shy fellow becomes more and more strangely shaped. At last he swallows the bell off a passing cat's collar-one snack too many!-and the resulting explosion returns the instruments to the musicians in a delightfully vibrant musical blast. The dynamic line of the illustrations, full of swoops and squiggles, provides excellent accompaniment to this silly reworking of a familiar rhyme. (Picture book. 4-7)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781590780435
  • Publisher: Boyds Mills Press
  • Publication date: 4/28/2004
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 643,737
  • Age range: 5 - 7 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.26 (w) x 9.42 (h) x 0.35 (d)

Meet the Author

Barbara Garriel has written songs and published 14 non-fiction and fiction books for elementary and middle school readers, and resource manuals for teachers. Using her background as an educator, and her gift for storytelling, she inspires students to share her enthusiasm for language, music, and nature. Barbara earned a bachelor's degree from Fairfield University and a master's degree from Teachers College of Columbia University.

John O'Brien has illustrated more than ninety books. His cartoons appear in The New Yorker and other publications. He is the only banjo- and concertina-playing children's book illustrator who is also senior lieutenant in the North Wildwood, New Jersey, Beach Patrol. He lives in Delran, New Jersey.

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Table of Contents

He's shy, a wallflower. He's the man at the side of the room listening to a duet for cello and viola. Even now you wouldn't notice him. But our shy fellow suddenly has an urge to swallow a cello, which is precisely what he does. And he doesn't stop there. He follows it with a harp, a sax, and a fiddle. On and on he goes, trying to satisfy his voracious appetite for musical instruments. A strange diet, you say? It's the perfect diet for a strange fellow, a strange, shy fellow. Barbara S. Garriel's wacky take off on the old woman who swallowed a fly is the perfect match for John O'Brien's fertile and funny imagination.
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 17, 2004

    COLORFUL RHYMING BOOK

    Just a glance at the title tells you this is going to be a fun book.....and it is. Colorful, outrageous illustrations by the imaginative John Gabriel joyfully partner with the rhyming text. There is a fellow, a music lover who suffers from severe shyness. He has gone to hear a duet by a cello and a viola when suddenly he feels an irresistible urge to swallow the cello - and he does. Preposterous? Not in the mind of Barbara S. Garriel. Think what swallowing a cello would do to a person's figure let alone his or her digestive tract. You'll have to see these wacky illustrations to get an idea. Now, as if swallowing a cello weren't enough this timid soul follows that feat by ingesting a harp, a sax, a fiddle, a cymbal, a kazoo, and a bell. The fellow has become a veritable one man band. Obviously, no one can spend the rest of his life with these instruments inside. What's the solution? The answer is a very funny surprise.

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