Debut illustrator Flores offers a contemporary take on a traditional folk song in both Spanish and English.
The song opens with a frog who begins to croak but is silenced by a fly, which is in turn hushed by a spider, which is in turn hushed by a mouse….Each verse builds on the last, much like the classic rhyme “There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly.” Each double-page spread’s text repeats the previous stanzas and adds new lines, with progressively larger animals shushing smaller ones. Flores cleverly takes a line that could be read as misogynist (“When Mommy decided to sing out loud, / along came Daddy and hushed her mouth”) and turns it into a believable and understandable scenario (Daddy is requesting Mommy to “Shh” because he is talking on the phone). Narrative skill aside, the artist shows inexperience with repetitive background colors (blue water, blue sky, blue wall) and unevenness of execution: Some characters are rendered in photorealistic detail (all of the human characters), while others are not (the insects). Backmatter includes the full song in both Spanish and English, as well as the musical notation and a note on the song.
Lacking humor and absurdity, this story doesn’t hold a candle to classics in the same vein, like The Napping House, but could be a useful addition to a bilingual library. (musical score) (Picture book. 2-5)