There Was an Old Sailor

Claire Saxby
Cassandra Allen

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.

978-1-77138-022-5 | Mar 1, 2014
List Price: USD $16.95, CAD $18.95
4-color 8 1/2 x 10 1/4 32 pages
Grades: PreSchool To 2 / Ages: 3 to 7

Educational Resources

Awards & Reviews

“An aptly silly narrative and offbeat illustrations make this a successful new spin on an old classic.”
— Kirkus Reviews, January 2014
“Bold and lively illustrations by Cassandra Allen are sure to draw laughter from young listeners.”
— The Montreal Gazette, May 2014
“There Was an Old Sailor is likely to become a cherished bed-time favourite.”
— CM Magazine, September 2014

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