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There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Trout!


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About the Author

Teri Sloat is the author of numerous books for children. She and her husband, Bob, moved to Alaska the day after they were married. They liked it so much that they stayed for twelve years. A former teacher, she now lives with her husband and three children north of San Francisco, but returns to Alaska every year.Reynold Ruffins has illustrated more than twenty books for children. He has received a number of awards for his illustrations, including a Coretta Scott King Honor for Running the Road to ABC. He lives with his wife on Long Island, New York.


Sloat (Sody Sallyratus) sets the cumulative chestnut about the voracious old lady in the Pacific Northwest, and endows her with an endless appetite for aquatic wildlife. The heroine starts her meal with a trout "that splished and splashed and thrashed about./ It wanted out!" A cast of characters highlighted in similarly simple but satisfying rhymes follows, as Sloat puts the lady through her paces. The verse culminates in the woman gulping and regurgitating the entire ocean. Ruffins's (Running the Road to ABC) vision of the title character is an earth mother clad in a colorful costume that, on one spread, echoes the hues of a hilltop totem pole. His ebullient paintings of coastal scenes both above and below the water wittily show off the old lady's expanding physique. The naïf perspectives, redolent with marine colors and textures, capture both the lyricism and cheery humor of the rhyme. Ages 3-7. (Oct.)

PreS-Gr 2-"There was an old lady who swallowed a trout that splished and splashed and thrashed about. It wanted out!" So begins this cumulative rhyme based upon the tried-and-true nonsense verse "I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly." Sloat's version has a Pacific Northwest setting; a salmon, otter, seal, porpoise, walrus, whale, and an ocean are also consumed. The verse concludes with the woman opening her mouth, freeing the ocean and the various creatures she has ingested. Ruffins's colorful illustrations reflect both the zaniness of the rhyme and the coastal locale. The fact that the old lady survives her gastronomical ordeal might play better with sensitive members of the preschool set than the original version in which she perishes after downing a horse. While trying to rhyme porpoise with purpose seems forced, the verse as a whole will sound quite lyrical if read aloud. Storytellers may want to pair this with Simms Taback's There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly (Viking, 1997), a strikingly fresh version of the old standby.-Tom S. Hurlburt, La Crosse Public Library, WI

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