Sep 8, 2013

There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed Some Books!

by Lucille Colandro

I read this book to my kid last night. Do you know the rhyme There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly? and each successive creature she swallows is after the one before it? This is another version of that, but with the old lady swallowing school supplies- a pen to write in the books, a pencil case the hold the pen, plus a ruler, folder and chalk until she finally swallows a bag, cheers for the school bus coming around the corner, and coughs up a backpack with all the stuff in it ready for school. I remember the tune that goes with the original rhyme, but when I tried to read this book in that singsong, it didn't quite fit. A lot of the lines have uneven rhythm, and the refrain I don't know why she swallowed the books / but she didn't get any looks feels particularly awkward to me. Perhaps it wasn't meant to be read to the tune, but when I tried to just read it straight, it didn't go any smoother. So for that, I didn't really enjoy sharing this book with my daughter. Plus she seemed really puzzled as to why an old lady was consuming all these non-food objects! She didn't get the humor. So... I didn't enjoy reading this one, mostly because the words came out awkwardly.

I do like the illustrations by Jared Lee. They're done with ink lines in a scribbly style, with some color medium. Really fun. There's a dog on every page frolicking with the old lady, but whenever kids appear in the picture they're standing there looking uncertainly at the old lady, with shocked expressions. I see that there are numerous other old lady swallowed books by the same author/illustrator where she starts out by ingesting leaves, snow, a baby chick, a sea shell, a rose... I'm a bit curious about those, and my library has quite a few, but I think I'll wait until my kid is older and will giggle at it instead of frown.

Note: some kids might find the premise alarming. Especially if they read the original my mother had, where the old lady swallows a fly, spider, bird, cat, dog, pig, cow, horse and the last page ends with I don't know why she swallowed a horse / she died of course!

Rating: 2/5 ......... 32 pages, 2012


bermudaonion said...

The cover is cute - too bad it didn't live up to it's promise.

Trish said...

I can absolutely understand your daughter's confusion! I had forgotten how the original rhyme went--but when I think about it, it seems as though many nursery rhymes are a bit disturbing!