Book Review “There Was An Old Sailor” Claire Saxby & Cassandra Allen

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This playful, rhyming picture book offers a fresh and fun new take on the song There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly. In Claire Saxby’s telling, a white-bearded, big-bellied sailor sets things in motion by swallowing a krill. He then goes on to swallow progressively larger sea creatures, each meant to catch the preceding one. Every new introduction is followed by a retelling of all the previously eaten animals, and I don’t know why he swallowed the krill — It’ll make him ill. The sailor’s tale finally ends when he swallows a whale, then with a burp … set sail. The burp allows all the other creatures to be released out of his mouth and back into the sea, presenting the surprise of a happier ending for the sailor than for the old lady in the song.

The story is perfectly complemented by Cassandra Allen’s jaunty, simple and playful illustrations, which provide a terrific source of visual clues for pre-readers looking to recognize words. The rhyming and repetition will make this a favorite read-aloud choice for storytime, as children will happily participate in reading the repeated sections, which are so easily and quickly memorized. In addition, there is a ?Fishy Facts? spread at the back of the book that contains a true fact about each animal in the story (including ?A blue whale can eat millions of krill a day!?), which would make for a fantastic introduction to a discussion on the size of sea creatures and the food chain.


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I love pretty much everything about “There Was An Old Sailor”. From it’s clever cadence to it’s fun illustrations you and your child will have a blast reading this story!

My three year old son has even memorized some parts and loves to say them with me. The story is silly but will make your kid do plenty of thinking and not just about sea animals. My son flat said that swallowing some of these animals whole is impossible. When I challenged his statement with “He could of chewed them”…my son hit me back with “No Mom, it pacifically says SWALLOWED not CHEEEEWED”. Yes, I meant to put pacifically….that’s how he says it.

I love that this is an actual story instead of information dumping. Kids want to learn but they also want to do it in fun innovative ways. Not just repeating over and over the same facts in the same ways.

This book is unique and fun! I’m glad we found it! You never know, this book may sneak it’s way onto the Christmas list.

5 stars!

5 stars


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The Technical Data:

Title: There Was an Old Sailor  | Series:  N/A  |  Author(s):  Claire Saxby & Cassandra Allen |Publisher: Kids Can Press / Publication Date: 3-1-2014 |Pages: 32 (Print) | ISBN:  978-1771380225 |Genre(s): Children’s Fiction |Language: English |Rating: 5 out of 5 |  Date Read: 10-20-2016 |Source: Copy from Library

One thought on “Book Review “There Was An Old Sailor” Claire Saxby & Cassandra Allen

  1. Pingback: The Booklist – 5 Books You Should Read | AlliesOpinions

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