Posted in Preschool Reads

Book Review: There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Trout! by Teri Sloat/Illus. by Reynold Ruffins (Henry Holt, 2002)

there was an old ladyRecommended for ages 3-7

The book puts a new spin on the popular cumulative tale, There Was an Old Woman Who Swallowed a Fly,  this time, telling the story of an old woman who begins by swallowing a trout, and goes on to ingest a salmon, an otter, a seal, a porpoise, a  walrus, a whale, and finally, the entire ocean. The story, told in rhyme, is increasingly funny as the old woman swallows increasingly larger sea animals. Reynold Ruffins depicts the Pacific Northwest setting of the story through brightly colored double-paged spreads inspired by folk art. The action words are silly and will keep young listeners giggling as they “slippity-flippity-flop”, “splish and splash”, and squeal along with the old woman. The rhyme and rhythm of the story make it a very good read-aloud candidate.

This story would be a good companion story to the original, There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly. It would also be a good addition to a cumulative tales read-aloud, with old favorites like The House That Jack Built. This is a great chance to use a felt board to illustrate the different animals that the Old Lady eats; there are also popsicle stick puppet printables on Making Learning Fun that storytime attendees can color and bring home to play along with.

The author’s webpage offers downloadable printables and games, art galleries, and information about school visits.





I'm a mom, a children's librarian, bibliophile, and obsessive knitter. I'm a pop culture junkie and a proud nerd, and favorite reads usually fall into Sci-Fi/Fantasy. I review comics and graphic novels at WhatchaReading ( I'm also the co-founder of On Wednesdays We Wear Capes (, where I discuss pop culture and geek fandom from a female point of view.

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