There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Bat

An old lady is swallowing a bat.Colandro, Lucille. There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Bat. Illustrated by Jared Lee. New York: Scholastic, 2005.

Last year a stroll through Barnes and Noble provided me with the wonderful Madeleine parody, Frankenstein: A Monstrous Parody. This year a stroll through the book section at Target brought me this little jewel.  I had to have it for my book collection.

I loved the original story, I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly.  It is fun, but a little creepy to sing, as it begins and ends with something unexpected.

First line: I know an old lady, who swallowed a fly. I don’t know why she swallowed a fly. I guess she’ll die.

Last line: I know an old lady, who swallowed a horse. She’s dead, of course!

If you need to reacquaint yourself with this little ditty, you can listen to Judy Collins sing it for Kermit the Frog on YouTube: https://youtu.be/qC_xO2aN_IA. It is fun, but a little gruesome.

This book caught my attention as it is a version of that rather gruesome story and it is illustrated by one of my favorites, Jared Lee.  I wondered, if this parody was a creepy as it base story.  It is after all, a Halloween story.  It is not quite as creepy, but just as eerily delightful.

There is no mystery here, you know how the book begins, “I know an old lady, who swallowed a bat! I don’t know why she swallowed a bat. Imagine that.” Before I opened the book past the first page, I speculated on what she might have swallowed to catch that bat.  Here’s my next line.

I know an old lady, who swallowed a cat. Imagine that to swallow a cat.  She swallowed the cat to catch the bat that flitted and darted and flapped inside her. I don’t know why she swallowed the bat. Imagine that!

It is no wonder I am not a children’s book author.  Still speculation is fun.  In this case she swallowed an owl and the old lady began to howl.  The book goes on to rhyme through cat, ghost, goblin, bones, and wizard. It is a treat to see her eat her way through this silly book. Do you think it will end in her demise?  Pick up a copy and read and sing it to the next group of “Trick or Treaters” that come to your door.  Will they appreciate this silly trick before they get their treat? Listen to Judy’s version, drag out your guitar, and serenade your neighborhood friends with this interesting little ditty.

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Possum Come a Knockin’

Possum knocking on a doorVan Laan, Nancy. Illustrated by George Booth.  Possum Come a Knockin’. New York: Trumpet Club, 1990.

Conversation around the lunch table this week, made me remember this book.  I have a friend, who lives near the edge of a small town.  Like many of us, who live on the fringe of town, she had a possum visit her yard.  She was worried that it might carry off one of her small dogs or they might try to eat it.  Her story made me think about this book and how I inadvertently tormented my niece and nephews with it.  It is a standard joke at our house.  As a matter of fact, my husband just wandered by and said, “Oh, Possum Come a Knockin!  Going to scare more, small children, are you?”

I first heard this book, when I was teaching in a private preschool.  We had an itinerant music teacher, Mr. David.  He read my students this book.  I understood why he chose it.  It had a wonderful cadence and rhythm. It was almost musical.  I recorded myself reading this book (https://goo.gl/ZvigbY) to give you a feel for it.  Here, also, is a link to a video of a teacher using this book in class: https://goo.gl/zcSZ6Y.

I thought it was such a wonderful, musical type of book that for the next gifting occasion I figured it was perfect for my brother-in-law and his family.  He and his wife were both musicians so I thought they and their children would enjoy this book as much as I did.  Alas, I forgot that they too lived at the edge of town. While they didn’t have a possum come a knockin’, they did have a possum get under their house. It made a lot of  creepy scratching noises.   That possum terrified my niece and nephews and unfortunately so did this book! They didn’t think it was musical or rhythmic, they thought it was scary!

Hopefully, you won’t encounter any possums and you can enjoy the cadence written into this story.

Nancy Van Laan

While I was looking at information on this author, I found someone who described her books as good for reading aloud.  This book is terrific for reading aloud, I am not certain I could keep it to myself.   Here are a few fun facts about this author.

  • She read to pass the time on long trips.
  • She wrote and illustrated her own stories when she was young.
  • Her first love was ballet, but an injury ended her careers
  • She has been an English teacher in a private school, a creative writing teacher at Rutgers, and a network censor at ABC.
  • She has an MFA from Rutgers and has painted murals for schools and private clients
  • In 1989, she began to write full-time.

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/26331.Nancy_Van_Laan

Parts: Humor

Parts2Arnold, Tedd.  Parts. New York: Puffin, 1997.

The guest blog on puns, I recently posted was the first of two on humor.  I expect you could write an endless string of blogs on this subject, but for now I will stick with two.  Let’s face it, laughing and smiling are human behaviors.  Think about a very young, child playing peek-a-boo with a parent. It is a silly game and both are delighted with the activity.  I recently watch a short video of my one-year-old nephew playing this game with his momma. They both were clearly enjoying the game and were crowing with laughter.

As they grow and learn, jokes, riddles and puns are a way children learn to play with words and ideas.  Think of this knock, knock joke (one I heard many times from my girls).

Knock, knock!
Who’s there?
Banana
Banana who?

Knock, knock!
Who’s there?
Banana
Banana who?

Knock, knock!
Who’s there?
Orange.
Orange who?
Orange, you glad I didn’t say banana.

Some of the humor in this joke comes from association that bananas and oranges are both fruit and that orange sound a little like “aren’t”. I love young humor!  It can be infectious! Jokes like this one and others help children learn the interplay between words, sounds, context and meaning¹. They learn to move beyond the standard meaning of a word or words to look for other interpretations of what they heard².

Laughing is so good for you!  You know, Reader’s Digest has been running the section, “Laughter Is the Best Medicine,” for as long as I can remember.  It was their small way to bring better health to the masses.  Laughter relaxes you, boosts your immune system, and burns calories among other benefits³.

I encourage you to read a silly book to a young child.  It is delightful to hear their giggles! Here is a suggestion for you.  As I was looking for a book on puns for young children at the bookstore, I came across Parts by Tedd Arnold. It is not a book with puns, but is a very silly book.  It made me laugh!  What better book to share in an article on humor.

Do you have a worrier?  This young man is a champion worrier! Do hairs in the comb mean he is going bald?  Do boogers dripping from his nose mean his brains are leaking out?  Oh, woe, does the discovery of belly button fuzz signify the beginning of the loss of his internal stuffing?

Read this go book with a young friend and see what “parts” this boy does or doesn’t loose.  Maybe they have had a similar experience!

Here are two fun puns to enjoy.

  • Why did Tigger stick his head down the toilet??? He was looking for Pooh
  • What do you call a blind dinosaur? A Doyouthinkhesawus

Here are some supplemental articles that I found interesting and enlightening.

Go forth laugh, giggle, chortle, snort, snigger, crow, or howl.  Get even with you children or friends and make them groan with an excellent putn! Teach a child the value of a good pun and play with language!

  1. Pollack, John. The Pun Also Rises. New York: Gotham Books, 2011, p. xxiii.
  2. Language-Based Humor Development in Children: Jokes, Puns, and Riddles. https://prezi.com/-obsr5mq8rb8/language-based-humor-development-jokes-puns-riddles/
  3. Laughter Is the Best Medicine: The Health Benefits of Humor and Laughter. https://www.helpguide.org/articles/mental-health/laughter-is-the-best-medicine.htm

Reading Report for Northern, Central Texas: May 2017

May was beautiful. Look at what has been blooming this month.  May always seems like a busy month. The reading list is short.  I haven’t been able to keep up with our household reading this month!

Sarah

May is always a busy month for teachers.  Sarah still managed to finish a book and start a new one.

  • Harkness, Deborah.  A Discovery of Witches.  New York: Penguin, 2011.
  • Harkness, Deborah. Shadow of Night. New York: Penguin, 2013.

Alexis

I wasn’t quick enough to grab all of Alexis’ books before she returned them to the library.  Here’s her short list for the month.

  • Ehrenreich, Barbara. Nickel and Dimed: On (or Not) Getting by in America. New York: Orbit Books, 2002.
  • Knight, Jim. Better Conversations: Coaching Ourselves and Each Other to Be More Credible, Caring, and Connected. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin, 2015.
  • Ryan, Anthony. The Walking Fire. New York: Orbit Books, 2016.

 Jim

  • Krauss, Lawrence M. The Greatest Story Ever Told So Far: Why Are We Here? New York: Simon & Schuster, 2017.
  • Baxter, Stephen. Ultima. New York: Ace Books, 2016.

Robin

  • Chesterton, G.K. The Complete Father Brown Stories. Herefordshire, England: Wordsworth Classics, 1972.
  • Hearne, Kevin. Hounded. New York: Del Ray, 2011.
  • Juster, Norton. Illustrated by Jules Feiffer. The Phantom Tollbooth. New York: Scholastic, 1961.
  • Riordin, Rick. The Dark Prophecy. New York: Hyperion Books, 2017.

Each Peach Pear Plum

eachpeachAhlberg, Janet and Allan.  Each Peach Pear Plum. New York: Scholastic, Inc., 1978.

In this book
With you little eye
Take a look
And play “I spy”

Do you remember playing “I Spy”? I remember playing this game on car trips with my girls.  It was fun and helped to pass the miles.  Here is “I Spy” you can play anywhere!  Who needs to wait for a car trip!  Snuggle up with this fun book and look for all the storybook characters.  Can you find Tom Thumb, Cinderella and the Three Bears?

I didn’t have this book when the girls were little.  I bought it when I was teaching preschool.  It is a wonderful rhyming book that is almost musical to read.

Tonight as I was writing this blog, Alexis wandered through the kitchen.  She looked at the book and said she didn’t remember it.  I handed it to her to read. As she did, she chuckled.  She liked the rhymes and the pictures. Her recommendation was that Baby Bear shouldn’t have a shotgun.  Now you will have to pick up a copy of the book and discover for yourself, why Alexis made this comment.  You can look for all the things you can spy with your little eye.

It’s a car trip don’t be glum
Remember Each Peach Pear Plum
We can play “I Spy”
It will make the miles go by!
We can’t look for Robin Hood,
But one of us will spy something good.

Janet and Allan Ahlberg

Janet and Allan were an English wife and husband team.  Allan wrote the stories and Janet illustrated them. They had a wonderful collaboration.  Unfortunately, Janet died at age 50.  Allan went on to write many more books.  His lively stories and Janet’s vivid drawings make their stories wonderful to read and to share.  If you are interested in this illustrator and author, you can read more about them on these websites.