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Old Black Fly

3.77  ·  Rating Details  ·  576 Ratings  ·  130 Reviews
Nothing drives a family crazy faster than an old black fly on a hot summer day, especially when the family's a little crazy already. And this fly is as bad as they come. He knows every low-down trick in the book--and won't rest until he's gone through them all.

He ate on the crust
of the Apple pie.
He bothered the Baby
and made her cry.
Shoo fly!
Shoo fly!
Big Book, 32 pages
Published April 15th 1995 by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) (first published 1992)
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Community Reviews

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So, this review will be special since the majority of this book is told through rhyming. So I will give out my thoughts on this book in a simple rhyming scheme!

Old Black Fly’s been buzzing around,
Buzzing around, buzzing around.
Old Black Fly’s been buzzing around,
And he’s had a very busy bad day.

He buzzed through the pie crust and bothered the baby,
He also bothered the dog and got in the honey,
He bothered the older sister and he bothered the cat,
Is he going to get it, well imagine that!

I reall
Oct 24, 2009 Laura rated it it was amazing
Shelves: teaching
I think the most wonderful part of this book (in response to a 2 star review) is that, after reading it, you feel like there are "fly germs everywhere!" When we read this aloud in my preschool class, the kids loved pointing out the yucky stuff on every page and when I banged the book shut to "squash" the fly and quietly opened up the book, hysterical giggles abounded. This book is great for eliciting student participation (repetition in "Shoo fly...") and for developing inference abilities at a ...more
Feb 23, 2015 Dolly rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: parents reading with their children
A pesky old fly makes the rounds in a house in this strange, but humorous alphabet book. The rhyming, sing-song narrative is fun to read aloud and the illustrations by Stephen Gammell are colorful, if a bit busy.

I actually picked up the book based on the collaboration between him and Jim Aylesworth. We are more familiar with Mr. Gammell's eerie illustrations for the scary short story collections for Alvin Schwartz.

Our girls weren't overly impressed with the A-to-Z feature of the book (too baby
Gwen Martin
Sep 18, 2014 Gwen Martin rated it it was ok
Shelves: abc-books
I did not enjoy this book as much as I thought I would by looking at the cover. I guess you really can't judge a book by that! It was about a fly who kept buzzing around and bothering everyone, and at the end of the book they killed him! I just think that is a little too graphic for children, but maybe I'm being overprotective. It did accomplish its job of having the alphabet in it, each page and mischievous act of the fly being a different letter. That did help a little with the alphabet, becau ...more
Oct 07, 2011 Morgan rated it it was amazing
This is an ADORABLE ABC book. It talks about the journey of a naughty, bad, old black fly and the trouble he causes in a household, from A to his buzzing zzzzzzzzZZZZZZzzzzzzzzz. I think that this is an exemplary ABC book because it tells a story while using examples through the alphabet, rather than saying "A is for Apple" "B is for Bear" For most the letters in fact, it uses alliteration, and gives more than one example for the letter that they are talking about.

For example: "He coughed on th
Susan Rowe
Apr 02, 2016 Susan Rowe rated it really liked it
ABC Book

Ayelesworth, Jim. Old Black Fly. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1992. Print.

A picture book about a pesky fly that is quite bothersome inside a house until he meets his demise at the end. It is an ABC book told in rhyme: “He lapped up the Milk in poor kitty’s bows. He nibbled on Noodles in the casserole.” Children can help read the chorus, “Shoo fly! Shoo Fly! Shooo.” Poor old black fly is swatted at the end and he can’t “be bad no more”.

Themes: rhyme, ABC’s, flies

ABC Children's Bookse
Feb 16, 2016 Alison rated it really liked it
Title: Old Black Fly
Author: Jim Aylesworth
Illustrator: Stephen Gammel
Genre: Alphabet Book
Theme(s): Alphabet, Death
Opening line/sentence: “Old black fly’s been buzzin’ around, buzzin’ around, buzzin’ around.”
Brief Book Summary: An old black fly is very bad. He gets himself into everything and anything, until he meets his fate.
Professional Recommendation/Review #1: Holt New ed., 1992.
Just as old black fly gets swatted at the end of his "very busy bad day," this board book edition of a successfu
Rachel Tackett
Apr 15, 2014 Rachel Tackett rated it really liked it
Shelves: abc-picture-book
Old Black Fly, written by Jim Aylesworth is very funny and would be a great book to read to young children who have begun learning their alphabet or already know it. The story about this fly who only gets in trouble and does everything that we don't want it to is so close to reality that children would really get it and understand it. This is an alphabet book so it would be useful in reading to a classroom and the repetition in the words can allow for students to say it with you as you read it t ...more
Camille Ryckman
Brief summary Old black fly gets shoo'd away from messes (in alphabetical order)
This book has a variety of vocabulary using a flys trajectory as landing places to make a mess. The illustrations are amazing in showing what a mess is being made
Age appropriateness 3-6
Connection to six early literacy skills
Print Motivation - It is a fun story that keeps kids interested
Print Awareness - Words are written in a top to bottom style
Letter Knowledge - use of Letters and they letters being bol
Ryan Vignetti
Nov 21, 2015 Ryan Vignetti rated it it was amazing
Shelves: abc-books
GPS: ELAGSEKRF1 Demonstrate understanding of the organization and basic features of
print. d. Recognize and name all upper- and lowercase letters of the
This book is a good way to teach children letters, because it functions as an actual story. Children also love animals and the fact that this is a story biased around a fly might seem funny and strange enough to them to grab their attention.

Students would be read this story as a group. They would then revive a worksheet that has a bunch
Niko Gregg
This book tells the story of Harry and his friends Ron and Hermione. When Harry was a young kid, his parents were murdered by Voldemort, and now Voldemort is trying to rise to power again by getting ahold of the Sorcerer’s Stone. This was one of my favorite books as a kid and I began to read them right after I watched the movie. In the classroom, we can have this book as an option when we are talking about fantasy fiction. This book can allow for them to get into the series and begin to enjoy re ...more
I could have my students try to find the fly. This works best in small groups. I like the colors the book used, but I did not like the way the illustrator drew noses or that the used green on the dog's ear. This book was pretty good. I could also use this book to talk about germs.

Interest Level
Grades PreK - 1
Reading Level
Grade level Equivalent: 2.2
Lexile Measure: AD400L
DRA: 16
Guided Reading: J
Type of Book: Alphabet Book
Poetry and Rhymes

Catherine Kirk
Oct 30, 2011 Catherine Kirk rated it really liked it
ABC Book

Jim Aylesworth's "Old Black Fly" is a rhyming alphabet book about a day in the life of a fly. Throughout the story, the fly "ate on the crust of the Apple pie" "lit on the List for the grocery store" and snoozed on the Quilt on Gramma's bed". After the double page spread that simply says "SWAT!" the old black fly is done causing trouble.

I like the illustrations for their brightness and uniqueness, and I thought the way that the people and the fly in the book looked ugly and disfigured wo
Cameron Kisselbaugh
Jan 31, 2013 Cameron Kisselbaugh rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
This ABC book is an absolutely hilarious tale of a flies daily activities in bugging a family. From messing with the dog to eating a cake, this book does not miss a step of a flies short life. Each page introduces the next letter of the alphabet in such a way that it will have the young reader wanting to see what the fly gets into next.

The illustrations are very a good way. When one pictures a fly, they think of this quickly buzzing around insect that makes a lot of noise and th
Miss Kelly
May 14, 2016 Miss Kelly rated it really liked it
Picture book that Elaine, PL Children's librarian recommened. We are going to center a NatureConnect Program around this book. Story about a very annoying fly. Sing a-long book, repetative, big, bright pictures, silly...Great Story Time book. Spoiler alert>>>The fly is killed at the end, but Miss Elaine assured me kids don't get too upset about that, she makes it fun. Thinking of doing outside extension program with this book...paint with fly swatter, paint with leaves, ivy, twigs, etc. ...more
Shannon Brasher
Old Black Fly is about a fly that is in the house and is reeking havoc in an alphabetical pattern. It is a good book to introduce sequencing, discussing the alphabet, reputation as Shoo fly! Shoo fly! Shooo is repeated on every other page. I also enjoyed the illustrations. They are vibrant, full of color and make the reader feel as if the fly is making a mess wherever he goes. I would read this book to either kindergartners or preschoolers and have it in my classroom library.
Michelle Amarante
Mar 01, 2014 Michelle Amarante rated it it was amazing
My children are now 17 and 21, and to this day this has to be one of our favorites ever. I never tired of reading this book to them when they were little. The prose was hysterical. But I have to say that for me what makes a children's book memorable is the illustrations. And let me tell you, the art work is amazing, beautiful, and colorful. Captivating! I'm pretty sure I'm keeping this one forever in my library. I just can't bear to let either child take it from me.
Emma Sims
Mar 23, 2015 Emma Sims rated it really liked it
Shelves: abc-book
I thought Old Black Fly by Jim Aylesworth was a good book and helpful for children who are learning the ABCs. It was a story about a pestering and annoying fly who comes into a house and starts eating food around the house and waking the baby. It goes through each letter through the alphabet and the author has a funny/ charming way to make it rhyme. I would recommend this book for anyone learning or teaching the alphabet.
Emma Sims
Feb 12, 2015 Emma Sims rated it it was amazing
Shelves: abc-book
I thought Old Black Fly by Jim Aylesworth was a good book and helpful for children who are learning the ABCs. It was a story about a pestering and annoying fly who comes into a house and starts eating food around the house and waking the baby. It goes through each letter through the alphabet and the author has a funny/ charming way to make it rhyme. I would recommend this book for anyone learning or teaching the alphabet.
Timothy Luken
Sep 17, 2013 Timothy Luken rated it it was amazing
Shelves: abc-book
What a hilarious ABC book I absolutely loved it! It tells the story of a fly reeking havoc on a family, bothering the kids and the grandmother during the day, ultimately leading to the fly's demise. The writing is superb making the reader laugh as they turn each page. The writing also makes sure that parents or teacher reading this to their child(ren) can teach the kids the alphabet. The illustrations were my absolute favorite part of this book. They are very differently done, seemingly etched w ...more
Emma Apple
Jul 22, 2015 Emma Apple rated it it was amazing
One word: Hilarious! This is an alphabet book, but not your typical alphabet book! We follow this old black fly as he gets into everything in the house, dances on the edge of the garbage bag, plays on a vase, gets honey on his back. We all laughed out way through this book! The illustrations are fun and funny, everything in the book is just so typically fly. Just a super fun book!
Ruenn Shy
Oct 20, 2015 Ruenn Shy rated it it was amazing
This is not an ordinary picture book. It is an alphabet book with an interesting story, and it rhymes! On top of that, the illustrations speak out for the annoyance and frustration we felt whenever we were chasing fly especially the one that is hard to get rid, the one that accidentally flew into bedroom and started buzzing around! But I laugh out loud reading this one!
Sep 24, 2010 Renee rated it it was amazing
“Old Black Fly” is a funny little tale done in poetry that uses rhyme and the alphabet. The book is about a how a fly’s day is spent and everything he lands on and tastes. The book is cleverly written with a rhyme shared between two pages. I love the illustrations in this book! Jim Alylesworth highlights each letter from the alphabet he uses directly in a word on each page. The illustrations are very unique showing the fly’s trail in a spatter form. Strangely, I felt sticky after reading this bo ...more
Alex Deats
Jan 27, 2016 Alex Deats rated it liked it
Shelves: abc-book
I thought this had odd pictures that adults would enjoy more. It was, however, a creative way to explore the alphabet. I think this would be a fun book to read aloud to children because of all of the creative uses of the letters. I think their use of the letter "z" was fun and imitating a fly during a read aloud would make the children happy.
As a hater of flies, I could appreciate this story. It's a little gross though. I also like the crazy watercolors; they're not actually very beautiful (and just make me think that the fly is vomiting rainbows everywhere), but I appreciate the style. It's an alphabet book, but that doesn't really matter just much. Just provides some structure.
Jan 25, 2013 Chelsea rated it really liked it
Shelves: lis-510, abc-book
“Old Black Fly”- written by Jim Aylesworth and illustrated by Stephen Gammell, is a children’s ABC rhyming book that takes readers on the adventures of the pesky, old black fly. The fly becomes an annoyance to the house as he “coughs on the cookies” and “drives the dog nearly out of wits.” In addition, Alyesworth constantly states, “Sho fly! Shoo fly! Shoo” on every other page- making it for a great read aloud to children who could help tell the story by chiming in. The illustrations throughout ...more
Amy Clinton
Sep 30, 2013 Amy Clinton rated it really liked it
Shelves: 642
Old Black Fly is a story about a little fly who had a very bad day. This story goes through all of the things that either happened to the fly, or that the fly did. What is great about this story is it goes through these events while introducing rhyming words and going through the alphabet.

You can use this book to teach rhyming and to reinforce the alphabet.

The illustrations in this book are full of color and very dramatic. The pictures add character to the book and allow the children to laugh at
Madison Johnson
Mar 18, 2013 Madison Johnson added it
Shelves: abc
This book is hilarious. This book is about the daily life of a fly. This fly is very naughty and bad fly and bugs this poor family all day. The fly becomes a pest as he "coughs on the cookies" and "drives the dog nearly out of wits". This book goes through the alphabet, starting with A and talks about all the things the fly does. I think this book is better then every other ABC book, it uses rhyming which keeps the story fun and exciting. The illustrations are brilliant and fun. They are so colo ...more
Aug 26, 2014 R.L. rated it liked it
Anything illustrated by Stephen Gammell is an adventure to discover. The story itself is a bit disturbing for a very young child but by elementary age children love love love being grossed out and find this book super funny.
Dani Paiz
An alphabet book, it goes through the letters and explains how a fly causes mischief throughout a day. It's told in rhyme. It's good for phonological awareness and letter knowledge. I'd recommend it for ages 2-4.
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Jim Aylesworth was born in Jacksonville, Florida but as an infant moved from the state. He lived in many places during his childhood: Alabama, Indiana, Georgia, Tennessee, Texas... but by the time Aylesworth was 15 his family had settled in Hinsdale, Illinois and that is where he graduated from high school in 1961.

In 1965, he graduated from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio with a B.A. in English.
More about Jim Aylesworth...

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