I Know an Old Lady

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Cahners\\Publishers_Weekly
Karas may not know why the old lady of the 1960 Rose Bonne/Alan Mills song swallowed the fly, but his funereal palette captures the mood of the rhyme in all its macabre splendor. Clad in a black dress and just-glimpsed white petticoat, an old lady gulps down a spider, a bird, a cat and larger and larger animals. Karas, meanwhile, responds with increasingly dark images; a TV displays weather reports of a thunderstorm, and ominous gray clouds gather as the lady grows green around the gills. Throughout, a boy with a notebook and camera-the narrator, perhaps-sneaks after the ever-fattening lady and documents her bizarre feast. Accommodating those readers who would rather not think about devouring a live goat, Karas discreetly places the lady's back to the audience as she shoves the animal headfirst down her gullet. The bounding lyrics, which playfully repeat the sequence in descending order, are irrepressibly gleeful. A musical arrangement is included.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Karas (Like Butter on Pancakes, Children's Forecasts, Jan. 23) may not know why the old lady of the 1960 Rose Bonne/Alan Mills song swallowed the fly, but his funereal palette captures the mood of the rhyme in all its macabre splendor. Clad in a black dress and just-glimpsed white petticoat, an old lady gulps down a spider, a bird, a cat and larger and larger animals. Karas, meanwhile, responds with increasingly dark images; a TV displays weather reports of a thunderstorm, and ominous gray clouds gather as the lady grows green around the gills. Throughout, a boy with a notebook and camera-the narrator, perhaps-sneaks after the ever-fattening lady and documents her bizarre feast. Accommodating those readers who would rather not think about devouring a live goat, Karas discreetly places the lady's back to the audience as she shoves the animal headfirst down her gullet. The bounding lyrics, which playfully repeat the sequence in descending order, are irrepressibly gleeful. A musical arrangement is included. Ages 3-7. (Mar.)
Children's Literature - Elizabeth Bagg
I know an old lady who swallowed a fly, I don't know why... This is a cumulative, silly song often sung by scouts and enjoyed for its impossibility. From a fly, the old lady's appetite progresses to a horse. The book has wonderful childlike illustrations. It is a picture book, but first graders will appreciate the humor of the song and it could also be used by choral reading groups. The book includes the music.
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 3-Karas brings considerable talent to illustrating Bonne and Mills's classic, absurd song about an old lady who eats a series of insects and animals until ``She died, of course!'' The book possesses all the elements necessary for successful sharing with the story-hour crowd. The gouache, acrylic, and pencil drawings are large and bold and suitably exaggerate the ridiculous nature of the song. The woman gets progressively larger and more grotesque while the narrator, a young boy equipped with binoculars, a notebook, and a camera, looks on in horror and makes notes on his neighbor's odd activities. Children can predict which creature the old lady will swallow next from looking at the pictures. The last page contains music and lyrics. Various earlier editions feature illustrations by William Stobbs, Colin and Jacqui Hawkins, Nadine Westcott, and Glen Rounds. Karas's version lends a fresh, hip interpretation to this old favorite.-Ellen Fader, Oregon State Library, Salem
Hazel Rochman
The popular cumulative nonsense rhyme gets uproarious treatment in a wild picture book that will make kids chant and point and laugh out loud. Karas' exaggerated cartoon-style pictures in gouache, acrylic, and pencil revel in the slapstick action and laconic absurdity. This old lady is determined and dangerous. Dressed in black with a gray bun on top of her head, she becomes more and more witchlike as she swells with all the creatures she gobbles up whole. Seeing her with her tongue hanging out and her tiny white hands on her huge expanding abdomen, you can't help imagining how it must feel to have a spider jiggling inside you or to force a goat down your gullet. The boy watching her is alternately curious, astonished, scared, furious ("Oh, what a hog to swallow a dog!"), and aghast. He records it all with pen and camera as the scene moves from her room to her urban neighborhood to the garishly green countryside. Best of all, what Karas adds to the poem is foreshadowing: while the verse is running through all the things the old lady is busy digesting, the next doomed animal is running from her on the opposite page. It's crazy and, yes, deliciously funny.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780590465755
  • Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 3/28/1995
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 3 - 7 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.40 (w) x 10.34 (h) x 0.40 (d)

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