Genre: Surreal / Humor / Chain Reaction / Food / Animals
Year Published: 1997
Year Read: 2009
“There was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly” is a silly lyrical book rewritten from a 1940s American folk poem by Simms Taback and is a Caldecott Honor Book. This book is about how an old lady manages to swallow every animal that comes in her path for no reason, until she goes a bit too far towards the end. This book is full of silly fun, but smaller children might want to watch out for the disturbing ending.
Simms Taback has done an excellent job at writing this story as it sounds upbeat and is creative, especially when he states about why the old lady swallow one animal after the other. Simms Taback also brings some attitude to the story as he makes it seem like what the old lady is doing is absurd, such as how he stated that it was absurd how the old lady swallowed a bird. Simms Taback also does a superb job at illustrating this book as he makes each character look surreal. The image that stood out the most was the image of the old lady herself as she is the most surrealistic looking character in the entire book. The old lady has bloodshot eyes throughout the book indicating she is crazy and her dress is black and has colorful dots painted all over her dress. I also love the way that Simms Taback made die cuts in this book when she shows the animals that the old lady has swallowed in her belly and the die cut gets larger the larger the animal she swallows gets.
Parents should know that the ending might be too disturbing for smaller children. I will not spoil the ending for you, but it does deal with the subject of death and children might worry about the concept of death. Parents might want to explain to their children about how death is apart of life and be careful into how they are explaining this theme since smaller children might not understand the full concept of death. Also, parents might want to talk to their children about he difference between reality and fantasy, especially since this book was not meant to be taken seriously and the things that the old lady has done does not really happen like that in real life.
There was an Old Lady who swallowed a fly” is certainly one silly book that children will love for many years. I would recommend this book for children ages five and up since the format is simple for children to read, but the ending will definitely disturb smaller children since they do not understand about death in real life.
* 1998 Caldecott Honor
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