Review: There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly

There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a FlyThere Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly by Simms Taback

Viking Juvenile (1997)

ISBN 9780670869398

This old familiar rhyme about this poor old lady has been with us for generations – but it is really the amazing die-cut illustrations of Simms Taback that give this version it’s truly new and amazing power for readers of this version. Everything from the crazy look on her face (she LOOKS like a lady who would swallow all those things!) to the wonderful use of colors and his own handwritten font used for the text of this story, brings this book to life and gives young readers (and old ladies) a reason to laugh and howl as they go along with the ever-expanding contents of the story and her stomach.

A vert strong book for read-along use in the library, this book is also great to use with older students who want to read to younger groups of students. The familiar verses bring everyone into the reading and the climax is always exciting, no matter how many times it is read!

Quantitative: No Lexile or ATOS available.

Qualitative: This is a great book for lower grades (K-3) as it follows a rhyming, sin-song verse form through out the book. The illustrations are great to use with older students for both art and graphic design samples, as the author used his own handwriting to create a font to use for the text.

Content Area: English; Art – Graphic Design

Common Core Standards: W.K.3, L.K.1, L.K.5, 

Additional/Digital Content:

Simms Taback official website:

Awards: Caldecott Honor Book (1998)

Personal Note: Simms Taback was a long-time resident of Ventura County and much of his original artwork is often on display in various locations throughout the county. He created illustrations for his other books such as Joseph Had a Little Overcoat and I Miss You Everyday and they are amazing to see in their original form. Simms Taback also created the first artwork for McDonald’s when it launched its “Happy Meal” boxed meals back in 1977. Sadly, he passed away Christmas Day 2011.

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