A fishing version of the classic song “There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly” has readers wondering, “Perhaps she’ll sink.”
Beginning with a skink, the plump old white woman with the red cheeks and bluish-gray hair, tiny red hat perched on her round head, proceeds to eat a worm, a bobber, some fishing line, a fishing pole, a pail, a net, an oar, and a boat. This last makes her float in fact, though it doesn’t allow her to avoid the fate hinted at in the repetitive phrasing: one last snack does her in. Aside from the final page and big reveal, the list of items is repeated on each new spread, allowing for audience participation, though the rhythm and rhyme sometimes falter: “There was an old lady who gobbled a bobber. / That bobbled and wobbled and caused her to slobber.” From the visible linework, Bermejo’s cartoon illustrations appear to be colored pencil. Starting with spare pictures on white backgrounds, the artwork gradually becomes more detailed as the story moves closer to the dockside ending. While she does get a bit red in the face, looks like she might throw up, and sweats a bit, the old woman never otherwise visibly changes as a result of the items she eats, making this version a bit less gruesome than others. Children familiar with sport fishing will wonder how the skink enters the picture; all the other items she swallows are related to fishing and boating, but the skink appears to have been chosen just because it sounds funny.
This fisherman’s adaptation doesn’t add much to the original. (Picture book. 3-6)