Friday, February 13, 2009

There Was an Old Lady...

Today is Simms Taback's 77th Birthday. He has illustrated over thirty-five children's books and is famously known for his retelling of the American Folk Tale, There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly. I was first introduced to this book when I was in kindergarten and it has been a favorite of mine for many, many years! I was sooooooo happy to discover there were other books (by different authors) that have mimicked the tale in many ways but added their own touch and changed what the old lady swallowed! So, in honor or Taback's birthday, I'm celebrating with reviews of several different versions of There Was an Old Lady...

Taback, Simms.
There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly!
Viking: New York, NY.

Ages: 5-8
Genre: Folk Tales
Guided Reading Level: L


I think most everyone knows this story! The old lady has swallowed a fly and now it's buzzing inside her. Somehow, she's got to get rid of that fly! But her efforts to rid her body of the fly result in another animal that her body must get rid of - a spider, a bird, a cat, a dog, a
cow, and a horse... She died of course!

It was a childhood favorite of mine, and this version, as well as all of the others definitely get the kids laughing (mainly due to the hilarious things that are being swallowed and the rhyming text) when I read to them aloud in any classroom where I might happen to be subbing.

The story actually makes for a really good sequencing and retelling activity, because it's predictable but complex enough that it makes students remember order. This book was really cool because you can see the woman's stomach growing and see each additional insect/bug/animal as it's being swallowed. The book is also very colorful and attractive to the eye, which is sure to capture the attention of children.

Sloat, Teri.
There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Trout!
Henry Holt and Company, Inc.: New York, NY.

Ages: 4-7
Genre: Folk Tales
Guided Reading Level: J


There was an old lady who swallowed a trout that spished and splashed and thrashed about... and many other sea animals (salmon, otter, whale, seal, just to name a few)! In this predictable tale, readers will delight in not only the tale of what the old lady swallowed, but also in the illustrations that depict the sea wildlife of the Pacific Northwest.

Colandro, Lucille.
There Was A Cold Lady Who Swallowed Some Snow.
Scholastic, Inc.: New York, NY.

Ages: 4-8
Genre: Folk Tales
Guided Reading Level: I


In this winter version of the popular tale There Was An Old Lady, Colandro takes us through the story of the cold lady who has swallowed some snow! She gets so cold from swallowing the snow that she goes on to swallow a pipe to warm her soul. But, in order to keep that pipe aglow, she has to swallow some coal! The cold lady goes on to swallow a hat, a stick, a scarf. When she's had enough she hiccups... Kids should quickly be able to tell what happens when she hiccups based on the illustrations! It's a snowman!

This story is not likely to disappoint children, as it follows along the same style of Colandro's other versions of There Was An Old Lady books, all of which are listed below. Click on the links for more information or to purchase the books!

Lesson Plans/Reading Activities:


style='clear: both;' Amy @ Literacy Launchpad said...

My kiddos LOVE There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly. They also love This is the House That Jack Built. Something about those Simms Taback books... Happy Birthday, Simms!

style='clear: both;' The Book Chook said...

I love cumulative stories, too. They're great for memory practice, and for predicting. I also love to use them as a springboard into a creative writing activity.