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There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly

There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly

4.7 14
by Simms Taback, Tom Chapin (Performed by)

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Everyone knows the song about the old lady who swallowed a fly, a spider, a bird, and even worse, but who's ever seen what's going on inside the old lady's stomach? With his inventive die-cut artwork, Simms Taback, illustrator of The Road Builders gives young readers a rollicking, eye-popping version of the well-loved poem. Full color.


Everyone knows the song about the old lady who swallowed a fly, a spider, a bird, and even worse, but who's ever seen what's going on inside the old lady's stomach? With his inventive die-cut artwork, Simms Taback, illustrator of The Road Builders gives young readers a rollicking, eye-popping version of the well-loved poem. Full color.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In Taback's (Joseph Had a Little Overcoat) ingenious take on the cumulative tale, there's a die-cut hole where the old lady's stomach should be, so the audience can see where everything she swallows ends up. What's more, the hole grows bigger to accommodate the increasing gastro-populationby the tale's end, it's the size and shape of the horse that causes her demise. The digested wide-eyed animals float in a confetti-dusted space (which matches her dress), while everything about the elderly woman's exterior is equally askew, including the pupils in her eyes. Older children should get a kick out of the amusing asides liberally tucked into every spread. For example, there are bogus front page headlines ("LADY WOLFS DOWN DOG" screams one); a recipe for "Spider's Soup"; editorial comments by the menagerie and Taback himself ("Even the artist is crying," says a small caricature of Taback when she meets her gluttonous end); as well as factual information (various types of flies, birds or dogs are clearly labeled and paired with accurate pictures). The gleefully dizzy mood is intensified by Taback's use of black hand-lettered words set in blocks of bright colors laid atop orange or black backgrounds, and occasionally sprinkled with collage images (whose sources range from old field guides to the Wall Street Journal). Children of all ages will joyfully swallow this book whole. All ages. (Sept.)
Children's Literature - Marilyn Courtot
This song is a favorite with children, although, you might wonder why, perhaps it is the rollicking rhythm and the simple absurdity of it all. Taback takes the song to new heights in his interpretation. The die cut artwork lets kids look inside this unusual looking old lady's stomach to see what is going on. There is plenty to grab kids attention both in her stomach and in the asides and other goodies tucked within the page. It's a wild and wacky version that offers lots of colorful visual humor. Caldecott Honor book.
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 3--From cover to moral (never swallow a horse), this cleverly illustrated version of an old folk favorite will delight children. Each page is full of details and humorous asides, from the names of different types of birds, to a recipe for spider soup, to the rhyming asides from the spectating animals. As for the old lady, with her toothy grin and round bloodshot eyes, she looks wacky enough to go so far as to swallow a horse. A die-cut hole allows readers to see inside her belly, first the critters already devoured and, with the turn of the page, the new animal that will join the crowd in her ever-expanding stomach. The pattern of the lady's dress, with its patchwork of bright, torn colored paper pasted on black, is used as the background motif for the words. The text is handwritten on vivid strips of paper that are loosely placed on the patterned page, thus creating a lively interplay between the meaning of the words and their visual power. All in all, this illustrator provides an eye-catching, energy-filled interpretation that could easily become a classic in itself.--Martha Topol, Traverse Area District Library, Traverse City, MI
Kirkus Reviews
A die-cut hole approach to an old favorite that offers a view of the old lady's stomach and its expanding bestiary. The text has the look of a ransom note (a touch the devoured creatures might appreciate), but the jaunty colors—set skipping by a judicious use of black—keep the dark side of the poem at bay. Those accustomed to the streamlined version of this ditty won't know what to make of the comments scattered throughout the pages, little asides quipped by animals not yet swallowed; these rhyme with the "perhaps she'll die" line of the poem. Fortunately, these additions can be easily ignored or inflated according to taste, and full concentration given to the poem itself and the wild, eye-catching artwork: It is good fun to watch the old lady bulge and bloat, and the sheer corniness of the verse continues to be deeply gratifying.

Product Details

Live Oak Media (NY)
Publication date:
Live Oak Readalong Series
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
11.22(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.84(d)
Age Range:
3 - 7 Years

Meet the Author

Simms Taback grew up in the Bronx and graduated from Cooper Union. He has worked as an art director and a graphic designer, and has taught at the School of Visual Arts and Syracause University. He has illustrated many children's books, including I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly (Viking), Spacy Riddles, Snakey Riddles, Buggy Riddles, and Fishy Riddles (all written by Katy Hall and lIsa Eisenberg, Dial).His work has won many awards, including the Caldecott Honor Award Medal for I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly and a New York Times Best Illustrated Children's Book.A father of three and grandfather of three, Mr. Taback lives with his wife in Willow, New Yorkcopyright ? 2000 by Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers. All rights reserved.

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There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Cuanam More than 1 year ago
*Reviewed by Gallataea - Age 7* This book was about a lady who swallowed bugs and a lot of animals. My favorite part was when she swallowed the cat. The cat looked like Monkey! I didn’t like when she swallowed the horse. I don’t know how she swallowed all that stuff anyway. This book taught me not to swallow a fly. I give this book a 5 it was a fun rhyming story
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Christina-Burns87 More than 1 year ago
The story of the old lady who swallowed a fly is a classic, there are many different versions but this is the best. The repetition is great for early readers and younger children. The student/children can learn but repeating the "chorus". This book is also great for prediction. You can ask the class what should come next after each animal this old lady swallows. There are also great puppets and other manipulatives to use when reading to children.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
this book is one of my favorite books.it is a great classic.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My son and I really got into this when we read it! This particular retelling of the rhyme had ad libs from the characters that added a lot of fun to the story. When you have to continually reread the same book for your child, it makes it great when you can become part of it. Get into it and make it fun!
starfyreHT More than 1 year ago
This is an excellent book. My son received it for his 2nd birthday and we have been reading it for the past year. I have even bought copies for friends. Love this version with the artwork and added statements by the animals. It really increases the story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed the beautiful artwork that went along with the poem.
Guest More than 1 year ago
My son and I took this book out of the library this week and we both love it. I haven't read this in about 33 years but like riding a bicycle, I didn't forget that catchy song.
Guest More than 1 year ago
CALDECOTT: I enjoyed reading, There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Fly, book. It was very entertaining and amusing. I liked the fact when I turned each page it would show whatever animal she had swallowed, plus the previous animals swallowed. I think kids would enjoy this book and think it was funny. The author rhymed the parts well and even had comments from other animals that rhymed. Simms Taback grew up in the Bronx, in a neighbourhood of mainly Eastern European Jews, who built their own co-operative housing project. 'It was like a Utopia for me, with a community centre, science and sports clubs, a library and art classes. My mother was especially supportive of my artistic talent and I attended the High School of Music and Art, and graduated from Cooper Union.' Since then, he has had a varied career in the applied arts, working as a graphic designer, advertising agency art director, and partner in a design/illustration office. As a freelance illustrator, he has worked for national advertising clients, contributed to numerous magazines and has designed and published his own line of greetings cards. He has taught illustration and design at the School of Visual Arts, and at Syracuse University, and has served as the president of both the Illustrators' Guild and the Graphic Artists' Guild. He presently lives and works with his wife, Gail, in the Catskill Mountains in upstate New York. He has three children and five grandchildren, who are impressed that he designed and illustrated the very first McDonalds Happy Meal box. He has illustrated about thirty-five books for children, twice being selected for a New York Times Best Illustrated Book award. His adaptation of There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly received the Parents' Choice Gold Award, the Parenting Magic Reading Award and was chosen for a Caldecott Honor in 1998. In 2000 he was awarded the distinguished Caldecott Medal for Joseph Had a Little Overcoat. There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Fly, book is about a lady that in the beginning of the story swallows a fly. She then swallows a spider to catch the fly. After she swallows the spider she swallows something else to catch it. She continues this process until she is unable to swallow anything else. No ever figures out what she swallowed the fly in the first place. ¿There was an old lady who swallowed a cat¿. This is the part of the story where the old lady swallowed the cat to catch the bird that she had swallowed to catch something else. ¿There was an old lady who swallowed a horse. She died, of course!¿. This part of the story shows the author rhyming and the fact that the lady can no longer swallow anything else. Taback, Simms. There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Fly. New York: Viking Penguin, 1997. Grade Level: 1st
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is an oldie, but a goodie, that will probably be around forever. The little ditty about lady who swallowed a fly, then swallowed a spider to catch it. Oops! Now, what will she do about the spider inside her? Hmm, perhaps she¿ll die¿ Unless, she swallows a bird! The uniqueness of this book is the way the pages show what is inside the lady as she gets fatter and fatter. Moral of the story? Don¿t swallow a horse, of course!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I don't know why anyone wouldn't want to read this wonderfull book to their 4 year olds. I work in a day care, with a group of 4 year olds who just can't seem to get enough of 'The Old Lady' and her appetite. They thoroughly enjoy watching the Old Lady's stomach grow and grow as she swallows the various animals in this story. I have read this story so much that I am now on my second book. My children and I wouldn't have it any other way.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This copy of 'The Old Lady Who Swallowed A Fly' has a hard cover and thick lasting pages. The print is clear and of large readable size, enabling any reader in any grade enjoy a hilarious story.
Guest More than 1 year ago
My sister told us the story and in one day my 5 year old little boy had memorized it. With the spider that wiggled and giggled and tickled inside her,it makes a wonderful song to sing to the kids on the swingset. Absolutely the BEST!!!