When I was a kid, one of my all time favourite songs was There Was an Old Woman Who Swallowed a Fly. Who wouldn’t be mesmerised by a tale where someone actually swallows a horse?
In recent years The Old Woman’s story has been making a bit of a comeback, but in slightly different forms. There are now a number of great pictures books around with variations on this theme.
THERE WAS AN OLD SAILOR
Last year, Walker Books released There Was an Old Sailor, written by Claire Saxby and illustrated by Cassandra Allen.
Claire and Cassandra’s book is a nautical take on the much-loved “Old Woman” rhyme, which not only makes it hilarious, but also gives it plenty of relevance in the classroom.
There was an old sailor
Who swallowed a krill
I don’t know why he swallowed the krill –
It’ll make him ill.
The Old Sailor devours a wide variety of sea creatures in ever increasing size and hilarity. The rollicking text is complimented by beautiful illustrations – each page is a masterpiece.
Kids will love the incongruity of this story, as well the surprise ending. There Was an Old Sailor is also a great tool for teachers wanting to talk about who and what lives in the sea. And there are fishy facts at the back of the book for readers to enjoy.
THERE WAS AN OLD BLOKE WHO SWALLOWED A CHOOK
Just this month, a new book on this theme was released from Scholastic.
There Was An Old Bloke Who Swallowed A Chook is from P.Crumble and Louis Shea, the team who created the popular There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Mozzie.
This book is an hilarious take on the classic nonsense “Old Woman” rhyme. Here’s another bloke with a bottomless belly, but this one isn’t partial to sea creatures.
His particular favourites are Australian animals so before the story ends, readers see a wombat, galah, possum, goanna and of course a chook swallowed by the old bloke with the insatiable appetite.
There was an old bloke who swallowed a chook
I don’t know why he swallowed that chook…
By cripes, that’s crook!
If you want to find out where his eating frenzy ends, you’ll have to read the book.
As well as the hilarious text, I loved the colourful illustrations in There Was An Old Bloke Who Swallowed A Chook. From the sight of the old bloke sitting on the power lines with the galahs to the improbable ending; the illustrations are graphic without being gruesome, and are very funny.