There Was an Old Sailor by Claire Saxby and Cassandra Allen

There are many variations of The Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly, but this particular one caught my eye because the bold and beautiful gouache and pencil illustrations have a strikingly surreal quality that really brings out the inherent incredulousness of the tale.

As the title suggests, There Was an Old Sailor is a fun nautical twist on the classic, with the protagonist being a burly old sailor who swallows a shocking variety of “seafood” ranging from krill and fish to the more jaw-dropping shark and even a whale!

Unlike the old lady, however, the old sailor is given a much happier ending — in fact, the author has avoided the notion of death altogether (something that will please the more cautious parents out there) by making clever word choices that still manage to follow the easy cumulative rhyming structure of the original poem.

To complement the theme, some light “Fishy Facts” about all the sea creatures that appear in the story are provided at the end of the book.

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