Bookmark Monday: Never eat a horse

…is the moral of the story in Simms Taback’s Caldecott Honor book, There Was An Old Woman Who Swallowed A Fly.

You don’t say.

Based off an old folk poem, this book cleverly takes the original text of the poem and turns it into a visual and auditory delight. As you flip the pages, Taback’s signature die-cut art style with a die cut-hole through each page, allows readers to see inside the old lady’s belly – what she has swallowed so far, and then as you turn the page, on the other side, what she swallow’s next. Watch the old lady grow progressively bigger with each larger animal swallowed!

The words of the original poem are printed on bright, torn coloured paper pasted on a black background, but Taback has also thrown in little snippets scattered throughout the pages, like names of different types of birds, newspaper headlines on the latest thing swallowed, a recipe for spider soup, and the shocked exclamations by the animals that have not yet been swallowed (which all rhyme with the original text), making it hilarious accompaniment to the original poem.

Another great Taback gem to check out is Joseph Had A Little Overcoat, a Caldecott Gold Medal winner.

About a frugal fellow called Joseph, who owns an overcoat, and when that overcoat gets old and worn, he makes a jacket out of it.  And when that jacket gets worn, he makes a vest out of it.  When the vest gets worn, he turns it into a scarf.

And one would think that when the last vestiges of the coat  – a single button – is lost, there would be no more…but even so, Joseph decides to make a book of it. The book ends with a picture of Joseph creating a dummy of this very book itself, stating “Which shows…you can always make something out of nothing.”

Again a book with strategically placed die-cut holes, and hilarious little additions and asides in the illustration (look out for the Fiddler who fell off the roof), and a valuable lesson in the importance of frugality, this is a lovable, captivating and enchanting read-aloud for all ages three to thirty-nine.



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3 responses to “Bookmark Monday: Never eat a horse”

  1. Rochelle says :

    I love the poem of the old lady who swallowed a fly! It’s great when children’s books take advantage of the tactile quality of real books. From your review it sound like both books do this in a clever way.

    • iwonderbee says :

      Hi Rochelle, it is a really hilarious poem isn’t it, despite the slight morbidity in the line “perhaps she’ll die..”

      • Rochelle says :

        I don’t think I grasped the concept of death at the age I read that poem. Back then ‘die’ was just a word that rhymed with ‘fly’. One of the better things about being a child than being an adult.

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