Early Readers – The Old Woman Who Swallowed a Fly

There was an old woman who swallowed a fly…If you’re like many English-speaking adults, you can probably fill in the rest of that sentence, having sung the folksong as a preschooler. (Although I’ve seen some more modern singers either eschew the song or change the lyrics because “she’s dead of course” has become more controversial as the subject of a children’s song.)

This version is one of the Usborne First Reading series, Level Three. There are one or two sentences on each page. The text is black on a variety of colored backgrounds. Although some of the words are more difficult than those found in the average early reader intended for this level, such as absurd or swallowed, children familiar with the song should not have too much trouble figuring out the words.

The illustrations are done in a cartoony style that fits very well with the silly lyrics. The old woman, who starts out very skinny, gradually sees her wasitline increasing and increasing. The sly little smile she wears on her face just before swallowing each animal is perfect. It’s the exact same look real adults get before deciding that even though they know a second piece of chocolate cake is too much, they’re going to go for it anyway. The old woman might regret her choice after the swallowing’s been done, but the anticipation is just too much of a temptation.


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