Friday: There Was an Old Lady

There was an old lady who swallowed a fly. I don’t know why she swallowed a fly, but perhaps it was so she could have her story told in this exquisite, unbelievably gorgeous, whimsical, magical book.  Jeremy Holmes, an artist is every sense of the word, has recreated this classic story in one of those most amazing books I’ve seen in a long time. We all know the story – lady, fly, spider, bird, cat…her untimely death after nibbling on a horse….But this oft-told tale is suddenly made new under Holmes’ talented hand. it’s like the Old Lady met Edward Scissorhands at a party and they got together and made this book. It’s edgy and interactive (the old lady’s coat comes off as a book cover and her eyes close at the end) and one of those rare books that also qualifies as fine art. Love it.

Ages 2-6. Visual and musical gimmicks enhance Carle’s signature bright, textured collages in this holiday-cum-counting story. A white-bearded farmer lives the simple life with a few animals that he names One through Five. Children don’t find out which number matches which animal, though, until they follow the farmer through a visually clever dream. “It’s almost Christmas, and it hasn’t snowed yet,” says the farmer. But as he sleeps, he envisions snow falling, covering each of his animals, while the text counts along–“The snowflakes gently covered One with a blanket”—a plastic sheet printed with snow overlays each page, concealing the collage images until readers lift the page and discover that One is a horse, Two is a cow, etc. Dream becomes reality when the farmer awakes to a white world and hurries outside (dressed in Santa coat and boots) with presents for the animals and ornaments for a tree that, thanks to a changeable battery pack, plays a chiming tune at the press of a button. Although this is more an exercise than a story, Carle fans and toddlers learning the basics will still enjoy the gentle text and creative design features.

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