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Old Black Fly

3.73 of 5 stars 3.73  ·  rating details  ·  480 ratings  ·  114 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
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 3 of 5 stars  ·  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
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
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
Rachel Tackett
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
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

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
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
Catherine Kirk
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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!
“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
“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
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
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.
Lindsay Wallace
This book, written by Jim Aylesworth, is a wonderfully creative and fresh take to a traditional ABC book. The alphabet is intertwined through a funny story written in rhyme form about a pesky fly in a family's home, who continues to be a nuisance to everyone.

This would be best utilized with older beginning readers, as it is a more difficult ABC book, which requires the reader to follow a more difficult and detailed story line. The pictures are engaging and interesting, and work well to draw the
Shelby Dennis
Who knew this book would introduce the letters of the alphabet in everything the fly touches. This fly seems to nibble on and upset everyone and thing in its path. The pictures are so colorful and pretty to look at. The fly is finally put to rest so that he cant bother anyone else anymore. Repetitive verses makes this book a good beginners book. I would recommend this book to children 4-7 years old.

For a learning activity, I would read the book and have the children come up with different thing
Kelly Tisdale
This book had very unique illustrations that added to the rhyme and flow of the story. The splatter paint like illustrations are some of the most interesting and unique illustrations I have ever seen. The story of the fly however was not a very interesting story and I don't think I would use this book in my classroom. I would have the book on bookshelf because a student may enjoy the pictures as I did but a story where they fly buzzes around and then dies isn't a very interesting read for me.
Ashley Storms
This was my first time reading Old Black Fly and I really liked it! Its humor made me chuckle, especially the twist ending. Recommended for primary or intermediate students.
Aylesworth, Jim. (1992). Old Black Fly. New York: Henry Holt.

Category: ABC book, predictable, participation, picture book

Old black fly is buzzin' around, "and he's had a very busy bad day." This crazy flies through the alphabet creating mayhem wherever he goes. He is greeted on every page with the refrain, "Shoo fly! Shoo fly! Shoo." A funny, predictable ending and a hilarious epitaph on the last page. Stephen Gammell's spatter paint illustrations and remarkably realistic fly emphasize the chaos
I was definitely not a fan of the pictures--just a little too much on the gross side for me. It looks like a splatter-paint method for creation. Always fun to do. I'm sure it finds its audience with plenty of children. Just not me. Especially with all of the mean and ugly looking characteristics of the humans in the story. I guess the biggest surprise to me was that it was an Alphabet book. And the way the text is written, it must have been intended as a song, or at least a chant. And I certainl ...more
A dirty black fly goes through the alphabet landing on different objects that begin with each letter. Readers and listeners alike can relate to the refrain to “shoo fly, shoo fly, shooo!” that continues through the book and this will generate a substantial amount of enthusiasm as everyone joins in. The illustrations by Stephen Gammell are colorful and funny, if a little creepy at times. It is amazing how the splat-like shapes really make the hand want to swat at the fly as he makes his way throu ...more
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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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