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There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly (Books With Holes)

4.19  ·  Rating Details ·  40,096 Ratings  ·  673 Reviews
An old favorite as you've never seen it before!

Everyone knows the song about the old lady who swallowed a fly, a spider, a bird, and even worse, but who's ever seen what's going on inside the old lady's stomach? With this inventive die-cut artwork, Simms Tabak gives us a rollicking, eye-popping version of the well-loved poem.

Book Details: Format: Hardcover Publicati
Hardcover, 36 pages
Published September 1st 1997 by Viking Books for Young Readers (first published 1997)
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Jun 24, 2013 midnightfaerie rated it it was ok
Shelves: childrens
My children were eating dinner when I read this to them and my 5 yr old was disgusted and my preschoolers were fascinated. The book wasn't quite the old folk song that I remembered and I was a little disappointed. Certain verses were repeated twice and I'm not sure why. I tried to guess at the pictures, wondering if perhaps there was a reason they were repeated due to the imagery in the cut out holes not matching up, so another page had to be added, but it still didn't seem to make sense. Overal ...more
Apr 06, 2010 Ronyell rated it really liked it
“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
Nicole Thompson
Oct 04, 2011 Nicole Thompson rated it liked it
This book is perfect for a young reader, first because it is rhyming. rhyming books are perfect for new readers because it helps them associate letters to certain sounds. The words are very easy, and the story line is light and playful. A child would definitely enjoy this book because it is so silly and "out there." The illustrations go along perfectly because there are silly and kind of just thrown together as well. all of the different bugs and things she swallows are pictured very humorously ...more
Nov 14, 2014 Rhayne rated it really liked it
Death is not typically a topic one would consider when picking a book for kids, let alone in a sing-along fashion, but somehow There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly has continued to entertain children since the 1940’s. The ballad also continues to inspire illustrators whom continue to create their own colorful and unique renditions. Simms Taback famous artist and illustrator, whom is also known for Jospeh Had a Little overcoat as well as his Smithsonian calendars, created his own rendition o ...more
Apr 02, 2010 Typhani rated it it was amazing
Summary: From cover to moral (never swallow a horse), this cleverly illustrated version of an old folk favorite will delight children. Each page is full of details and humorous asides, from the names of different types of birds, to a recipe for spider soup, to the rhyming asides from the spectating animals. As for the old lady, with her toothy grin and round bloodshot eyes, she looks wacky enough to go so far as to swallow a horse. A die-cut hole allows readers to see inside her belly, first the ...more
Oct 21, 2014 Jordan rated it it was amazing

This children's book is a creative illustrated story about the old lady who swallowed a fly. The storyline of this book is that the old lady ate insects and animals that kept increasing in size. The old, wacky lady was crazy enough to eat a horse. Perhaps she’ll die. When you read the story out loud, you find it catchy and start singing along.

The main character in this story is the old lady. The old lady is the one that swallowed the fly, spider, bird, cat, dog, cow, and the horse. She has crook
Samantha Gacke
An old lady has swallowed a fly, and continues to swallow more animals, which lead back to trying to catch the fly.

While the text in the book may be difficult to follow, children would really love the pictures! The pictures are all very bright, and they really stick out. Half of the pages have black backgrounds, which helps the reader focus on the pictures. Not only does the illustrator use vibrant colors, but also different patterns and textures to really draw the eyes to what is being told in
Jan 29, 2010 Amber rated it it was amazing
If you want a great book to go along with the song, this is the one for it! I have looked at the other version of this book, which is the board book, but it just is not the same! The illustrations in this book were made by using art media and collages on Kraft paper. Also, when it comes to the items that the lady swallowed or has swallowed, they are hidden in the picture on the page before or page after. Which makes it so cool. Then with some of the animals, like the bird, cat, and dog,these pag ...more
Jenna White
Sep 14, 2011 Jenna White rated it it was amazing
I remember this book from when I was in elementary school. I remember that our librarian would read this to my class for several years in a row and I loved it. I think kids would very much enjoy it because of the rhyming scheme from all the animals. Also, it's very entertaining because they know that a lady could never swallow a cow or a horse or any of those objects in real life. The pictures were fun to look at because of all the bright colors. I think the holes in the pictures are also neat a ...more
Lindsey Bishop
An all time favorite. I love this book. Teaches kids animals.
Mar 25, 2016 Wilmarie rated it really liked it
This story was one of the Caldecott Honor Medal winners in the year 1998. This adaptation of a 1940’s famous folk poem was illustrated with ridiculously accurate drawings that were humorous and enchanting. It followed a dilemma an old lady has after swallowing a fly. Secondly, she swallowed a spider in hopes of removing the fly. Third, a bird to catch the spider. Fourth, a cat to catch the bird. Fifth, a dog to catch the cat. Sixth, a cow to catch the dog. Ultimately, a horse in hopes of catchi ...more
Nov 26, 2010 Nancy rated it really liked it
Published: 1997, Scholastic
Age: 4-8

This is a great interactive book to read or sing with children over and over. The hole in the pages showing the expanding stomach of the old lady and the silly things she swallows will capture children's attention. Older kids will like to read the asides on each page. The wide googly eyes of the characters, the matching confetti on the pages, and the mixed up font are all eye catching. The pages make you want to keep looking for quirky pictures such as the art
There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly is just a good funny book! Children will love this funny story and the interactive illustrations. I would use this book in the classroom to practice rhyming language with the students by letting them complete some of the sentences or just asking them what rhymes did you hear in this book. Not only is this a silly book young readers will enjoy but students will learn without even noticing!
This book was crazy. But then again...the whole little poem itself is a little off. I liked how the illustrations kept right along with the little old lady, who continued to swallow the must absurd things. And of course, at the end, what more can you expect? The colors in this book were bright and bold. I’d recommend this book, it was cute and fun to read.

*Taken from my book reviews blog:
Jan 11, 2009 Dolly rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: parents reading with their children
Wonderful illustrations make this book a great story for the kids. The cutouts and busy pages add a lot to this old ditty that has been passed down for generations, something I remember from my own kindergarten days. We also enjoyed watching the pages animated to the song as sung by Cyndi Lauper on a Scholastic Storybook Treasures DVD. It included seven other sing-along songs with animations of the illustrated books.
Amber Clapper
Sep 06, 2011 Amber Clapper rated it it was amazing
I love this book. I think the pictures in here are phenomenal. They are very colorful and detailed and go with the story perfectly.This book has a lot of humor in it and keeps everyone guessing what animal the old lady will eat next. I think all ages of kid will think this book is silly and enjoy it.
Matthew Mealer
Jan 25, 2011 Matthew Mealer rated it liked it
This book was great for teaching repetition and rhyming. Children will love it. It is quite silly and will provide laughs and giggles all around the classroom. Teaches a moral.

I did not like this stories ending. I mean she ACTUALLY dies.. o__O I was disappointed haha
Oct 25, 2008 Slayermel rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: any parents who have a sense of humour
This is one of my favourite children's stories, I always have way more fun with it when I sing along rather then just read it. The kids at work always chime in and sing along. The Illustrations are bright and funny and the children seem to really love them.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Saashya Rodrigo
Jun 23, 2012 Saashya Rodrigo rated it really liked it
I have to admit, it took me about 3 reads to actually like this book. Originally, I just wasn't getting it. Second time around, I sort of understood the concept of it all. And by the third time I'd say it was pretty cute. I'm just not much for eating everything in site and growing sideways :)
Thea Fransen
Feb 08, 2016 Thea Fransen rated it really liked it
This was a favorite of Natalie's, and Maura is now requesting it every night too. Fun pictures, good rhyming. Fun take on a classic.
Oct 23, 2015 Mariam rated it it was amazing
It is the best edition, yet!!
Feb 07, 2010 Roxi rated it did not like it
This book is a Caldecott weird too.
Apr 27, 2016 Mariah rated it really liked it
Love. Doing a lesson on this book tomorrow!
Jul 01, 2013 R rated it liked it
A frightening old bag lady gives children a lesson in the dangers of escalation.
Ramoths Own
Nov 09, 2013 Ramoths Own rated it it was amazing
what is more fun than a book that you all have to sing?
Dec 04, 2016 Caroline rated it really liked it
-Type of book & Literary Genre: folk literature, fiction
-Awards: Caldecott Medal
-Summary: This old nursery rhyme involved an old lady who swallows a fly. She then swallows a horse, to catch the cow, to catch the dog, to catch the cat, to catch the bird, to catch the spider, to catch the fly. Eventually, she died.
-Critique: This is a classic folk tale that everyone grows up hearing. It rhymes perfectly, it flows smoothly, and it has a lot of bright colors and good images to capture the littl
Kelsi Watts
Dec 06, 2016 Kelsi Watts rated it really liked it
This was one of my favorites as a child. What is happening inside the stomach of the lady who swallows all these crazy things? This book is illustrated so well, which is one of the reasons why it is my favorite! I would use it as a read aloud to my pre-k or kindergarten classroom. I give it a 4 out of 5.
Stefanie Burns
Jan 03, 2017 Stefanie Burns rated it really liked it
Shelves: caldecott-honor
This bright, colorful retelling is funny and full of extra features. Different animal characters each have silly rhyming sentences which add to this familiar song. The cutouts of the animals in her belly are a fun addition too. The end page adds history and a cheekiness. Kids love this story and they will love this version with the outgoing, modern illustrations.
Richard Drown
Dec 05, 2016 Richard Drown rated it it was amazing
I love this book for kids because of it's creative and wacky illustrations that make way for a fun filled classroom full of students waiting to see what the old lady will eat next. This book would probably be more suited for the middle level elementary students because of it's crude humor.
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Simms Taback (born 1932) is an author and illustrator. He was born in the Bronx to a Jewish family. He is famous for illustrations for many children's books including, the Caldecott Medal winning, There was an Old Lady who Swallowed the Fly and Joseph Had a Little Overcoat, which have earned him many awards and praise in many circles. He was also a designer for CBS Records and The New York Times, ...more
More about Simms Taback...

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