Wednesday, July 29, 2009

I Know an old Lady

I know an old lady who swallowed a fly, along with any number of other things. I have known this old lady since the early 1960's. I still have my 50 cent "Scholastic Book Services" book club copy of this classic.

I have a small collection of "old lady who swallowed" books and I use them to teach a unit on parody (along with Goodnight Goon and Goodnight Moon).

They include:

There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Shell (all by Lucille Colandro and illustrated by Jared Lee. ...Looks like I need There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Bell and, new in 2009, There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Chick to complete the Colandro segment of my collection!)

There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Trout (by Teri Sloat and illustrated by Reynolds Ruffins -- a Northwest coast/Indian-themed version shared by a fellow Old Lady Book collector who used to live in Washington)

I Know a Shy Fellow Who Swallowed a Cello (by Barbara S. Garriel and illustrated by John O'Brien -- did I share this with the music teacher, or did he share it with me? I don't remember, but it matters not -- we both love it!)

I Know an Old Teacher (by Anne Bowen and illustrated by Stephen Gammell -- new last fall. I reviewed it here, with some other back-to-school books.)

There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed FLY GUY (by Tedd Arnold -- my 4th graders love finding the folk tale embedded in a FLY GUY book -- a series they read when they "were little."

One I don't own (yet), but found at the library -- I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Pie (by Alison Jackson and illustrated by Judith Byron Schachner -- a fun Thanksgiving-themed version with a surprise ending that's just PERFECT!)

And now (drumroll.....) the newest in my collection...

There Was an Old Monster
by Rebecca, Adrian & Ed Emberley
Orchard Books (Scholastic), 2009
review copy provided by the publisher

This one doesn't just break the mold, it swallows it!

It is bright and bold and delightfully icky -- the monster begins by swallowing a TICK! A larger than life bright purple but horribly life-like TICK! Ick! The tick is followed by ants, a lizard, a bat, a jackal and more. Eww!

This book is an Emberley family labor of love. The unique take on the story was written by Rebecca Emberley, the fabulous illustrations were made by Rebecca's father Ed Emberley, and the daughter of Rebecca and granddaughter of Ed, Adrian Emberley (a performing songwriter according to the back flap), joined the fun with with a recording of the story at the Scholastic website. Go listen. I'll wait until you come back.

Wasn't that fun?! Can you not wait to share this with your students?!? Will they not be inspired to write new versions of this often-parodied story? Will they not want to make pictures in the Emberley style?!?! (Buy reams of bright-bright paper now, so you can be ready!!) Will they not want to make podcasts of ALL of the versions for Swallow Fest?!?!?!



  1. Not knowing why she swallowed the fly never gets old! That old lady is a favorite in our family, and I can't wait to check out this new take on it.

  2. So glad you fellas are out here! I'm also a blogger on this service (for K-12 teachers, parents, and soon for preschool teachers). I'll come back time and time again.

    Aren't old ladies fun?

  3. What a great book list! I haven't seen some of those. Ever heard Pete Seeger sing it? Classic.

  4. the book was more collaborative than it father and I illustrated together and Adrian and I wrote the music together. We absolutely positively can't wait to see the podcasts.

    Thanks for reading


  5. Mary Lee -
    i used to own the version you have pictured at the top of your blog (i remember how slightly unsettling the drawings were when i was a kid). could you possibly give me more info on it so i might find a copy on alibris or ebay?

  6. Brennie,

    This ancient version is by Rose Bonne, music by Alan Mills and pictures by Abner Graboff. The copyright is 1961 by Rand McNally & Company, with this caveat: "This Scholastic Book Services edition is published by arrangement with Rand McNally & Company. 1st printing September 1965." I agree about the illustrations being a little creepy!

    Good luck searching out a copy!


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