Follow This Blog: RSS feed
A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

Fuse 8 n’ Kate: There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly by Simms Taback

Happy Labor Day! Or, as we say on the podcast, Merry Labor Day! Today is not the first song-turned-picture-book we’ve done on the show (that honor went to The Fox Went Out on a Chilly Night). However, it is most certainly the first (and quite possibly last) to include die-cuts. Now, to warn you, we’re both a little goofy on this episode. Kate wonders whether or not the “old lady” feels pissed off about being called “old” (as we attempt to sing “There was a spry lady who swallowed a fly”) while I launch into any number of tangents, like how gross flies are. One thing Kate and I do agree on though: This woman is capable of unhinging her jaw. Awesome.

Listen to the whole show here on Soundcloud or download it through iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, PlayerFM, or your preferred method of podcast selection.

Show Notes:

Note the fact that Simms Taback is renowned for creating the packaging of the very first McDonald’s Happy Meal.

Sorry, I just had to show this picture of Madeline L’Engle and Ezra Jack Keats at the Newbery/Caldecott Banquet. Look at that class! That style!

Steel-toed Victorian boots. Both Kate and I would totally wear these. Who’s with us?

It is kind of amazing how Mr. Taback took the care and attention to make this crazy array of realistic looking birds. And unlike the birds shown in Imogene’s Antlers, these are actually identified.

Trust Kate to be the only one to notice that while the address lists CA as the state, the zip code is in NYC.

All this begs the natural questions of (A) Why this had to be the Post? and (B) Whether or not that “culprit” is a reference that we’re just not getting.

Okay. Here is where the polling comes in. Do people “wolf” down their food or “woof” down their food? We need YOUR vote on this matter .

Loading poll…

I’m convinced that the fact that this reads as “She cried, of course” is done purposefully.

Extra points for the eyeball on the grave.

I had no idea that this was the first book (alongside Joseph Had a Little Overcoat) to use die-cuts AND win a Caldecott award in some way. Naturally, lots of books have used the technique. In fact, Taback himself pays homage to Peter Newell here at the start of the book:

The Weston Woods video is read by Cindi Lauper. Look at an excerpt here:

Check out this extensive Wikipedia page for this song. A hat tip to the number of versions here. I would have sworn I hadn’t seen the Judy Collins on the Muppet show one, but this brought back a LOT of memories:

About Elizabeth Bird

Elizabeth Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.


  1. You know when you are having one of those days? It is gloomy, cold, and dark. School has started but there is a pandemic so one is getting to know students on zoom. Teachers are overwhelmed, parents are panicked, yet at the end of the day one may relax by checking in with fuse8. Thanks Betsy. I needed a laugh. And love the banquet picture.

    • Can I print this out and frame it? Because when I am having one of those days, I’m going to look at what you just wrote and it’s going to help ME to relax.

      Right back atcha, buddy.