Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Traditional Literature

There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Fly

Image from http://images.amazon.com/images/P/0670869392.jpg

Taback, Simms. 1997. There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Fly. New York, NY: The Penguin Group.ISBN 9780670869398

Plot Summary:

There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Fly tells of the demise of our main character, the old lady, by her repeated attempts to resolve a problem, each time only making the situation worse. Her initial problem is that she swallows a fly and in order to get rid of it, she swallows a spider. However, now her problem is that she has swallowed a spider, so she resolves that by swallowing a bird. After that, she swallowed a cat to eat the bird. Next, she swallowed a dog to get the cat, and then a cow to get the dog. Finaly, she swallowed a horse to get the cow...and what happened?  Well, she died, of course!

Critical Analysis:

This imaginary story of an old lady contains traditional folktale elements such as rhyme, simple humor, and repetition. Taback Simms expertly brings the imaginary story, There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Fly, to life through his detailed illustrations of this cumulative folktale. Simms creatively shares this taleadding humor and a twist through fun, colorful illustrations. Although the plot is simple and episodic, the illustrations are anything but simple and provide for new discovery opportunities with repeated reads. Die-cut holes, for example, reveal each insect or animal that the old lady has swallowed! A clue to the next animal that will be in the Old Lady's stomach is given to those who are looking closely! On page 16 of the book, for example, down at the bottom, a picture of a dog sticking out it's tongue is saying, "I hope it's a lie." In addition, Simms extended the traditional folk tale element of rhyme through character interactions by adding on more rhymes through collage technique. For example, the text reads, "I don't know why she swallowed a fly." and a cow can be seen saying, "I think I'll cry." Such dialogue between the animals and the speaker add another layer of interest and humor. Children will easily pick up on the the pattern of the text and laugh at the creative illustrations of the old woman growing larger and larger with the turn of each page. A beautiful picture book by Simms, this will be loved by both children and adults!

Review Excerpt(s):
 "Those accustomed to the streamlined version of this ditty won't know what to make of the comments scattered throughout the pages, little asides quipped by animals not yet swallowed; these rhyme with the ``perhaps she'll die'' line of the poem. Fortunately, these additions can be easily ignored or inflated according to taste, and full concentration given to the poem itself and the wild, eye-catching artwork: It is good fun to watch the old lady bulge and bloat, and the sheer corniness of the verse continues to be deeply gratifying." (Picture book. 4-8) ~Kirkus Review
“There are so, so many details to make you laugh in this glorious patchwork of riotous colour.”~The Bookbag

Read similar books to There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly
~There Once Was a Cowpoke Who Swallowed an Ant by Helen Ketteman
~I Know an Old Teacher by Anne Bowen, illustrated by Stephen Gammell
~I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Pie by Alison Jackson, illustrated by Judith Byron Schachner

Read other books by Simms Taback:
~Joseph Had a Little Overcoat
~Postcards From Camp
~This Is the House That Jack Built

Awards & Recognitions:
~1998 Caldecott Honor

~1998 ALA Notable Children's Book

The Three Horrid Little Pigs

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Pichon, Liz. 2008. The Three Horrid Little Pigs. Wilton, CT: Little Tiger Press. ISBN 978-1-58925-077-2

Plot Summary:
The tale of The Three Little Pigs takes a twist when it is fractured by Liz Pichon.  The tale of The Three Horrid Little Pigs tells of three little pigs that are just that, three little horrid pigs! They live with their mother in a tiny house and they finally drive her crazy, so much so,  that she tells them to move out!  The little pigs pack their things and venture out.  The first little pig does, indeed, try to build his house out of straw.  The second, also tries to build a house, however, he tries to build his house out of twigs.  Our villain, the handyman wolf, is kind enough to offer to build the lazy pigs homes. Well, the pigs, naturally, refuse his help, by the “hairs of their chinny chin chins” and away goes the wolf. Now the third pig, lazily, decides that he won’t need to build a house at all, he will simply move into the chicken coup! The handyman wolf offers the lazy pigs to come and live with him in his nice big brick house. After the first pig’s house is destroyed by a cow, the second pig’s house is overrun by birds, and the third little pig is bothered by the rooster, the pig’s decide to head to the wolf’s house, sneaking down the chimney and finding a boiling pot of water in the fireplace. Come to find out, that handyman wolf was only making soup for them to share.  So, the three horrid little pigs and the handyman wolf have a lovely dinner, together. The pigs stay for a while, learning the craft of house building, and also a bit about behaving! In the end, all of the animals end up living happily ever after in one big, strong house.

Critical Analysis:
The traditional beast tale, The Three Little Pigs, has been creativley altered by Liz Pichon into a picture book suitable for young children.  It contains elements of beast tales, as the pigs and wolf act and talk like humans. The Three Horrid Little Pigs, is a fractured fairy tale because the author has altered and modernized the characters and the language of the traditional, well-known tale. The characters in this tale follow the typical archetypes of good or evil.  However, the roles in this familiar fairy tale are fractured from the tradiational tale, reversing the villain, as the wolf, with the three little pigs, making them the “bad” characters and the wolf the “kind, generous,” character. A few things remain the same, the significant number of three is maintained from the European story, the tale is set in the countryside, and the overriding theme of “hard work is rewarded” remains from the original tale.  A few additional lessons are explored, however, in this version, those of kindness and helping each other. The wolf as the kind one, teaches his friends how to build a strong home, and how to behave a bit better!

The illustrations add to the humerous, energetic feel of the text, as they are bright, bold, and like this retelling, modern and refreshing.  Readers are able to step into the text, as they closely examine the illustrations, the mean eyes of the pigs that makes them look grumpy and bad, or reading the thoughts of the wolf, as he reacts to the pigs’ rude behavior saying, “Oh dear” and “Goodness me!” The author's illustrations, in short, add to the story by deepening our understanding of the character traits, both good and evil, yet appeal to children through the use of bold, colorful illustrations. This text will be requested as a repeated read aloud just to examine, more closely, the characters’ thoughts and feelings detailed in the illustrations.

Review Excerpt(s):
"This fractured take on the Three Little Pigs is infused with humor and lessons about community and compassion."
~Booklist Review

"The full-color cartoon illustrations capture the pigs’ bad behavior and comeuppance with a goofy exuberance. The font size shrinks and enlarges to mirror the action and the text works as a fun read-aloud as well as a read-alone.”
~School Library Journal

~Read other books illustrated by Liz Pichon:
The Three Billy Goats Gruff By Rachael Mortimer 
The Very Ugly Bug by Liz Pichon 
Penguins by Liz Pichon 
Beautiful Bananas By Elizabeth Laird and Liz Pichon 

-Write your own fractured version of the tale
-Adapt and perform a reader’s theatre
-Compare this fractured version with the traditional European antecedent and compare the differences

Awards & Recognitions:

~1998 Caldecott Honor


Image from http://www.scholastic.com/content5/media/products/27/9780823413027_xlg.jpg

Kimmel, Eric A. 1991. Bearhead. Ill by Charles Mikolaycak. New York: Holiday House. ISBN 978-0-329-63172-7

Plot Summary: 
Bearhead is a retelling of a Russian fairy tale by Eric Kimmel. Bearhead is a man, with the head of a bear, taken in by kindly peasants when he was an infant. Bearhead becomes a devoted and obedient son, always doing exactly as he is told. The evil Madame Hexba demands that Bearheads father be her servant, Bearhead volunteers to take the job, himself. The evil Madame Hexba discovers that Bearhead follows orders literally, much to her surprise, as he literally follows orders and throws the table out the window when asked to clear the dinner table. Hexba becomes desperate to have Bearhead out of her home, so she sends him on a deadly mission: he is to retrieve the long over due rent from the goblin who lives in the lake. Bearhead is able to outwit the goblin and return home with the goblin’s hat and treasure for his family!

Critical Analysis:
Bearhead is a picture book that portrays characters who follow typical archetypes of good or evil. However, unlike the traditional tale from Russia, Kimmel has adapted from the oral tale, Ivanko, the hero with the head of a man and the body of a bear. Unlike Ivanko, Bearhead has the body of a man and the head of a bear. An element of traditional tales that is maintained in Kimmel's book, the plot maintains the conflict as a quest or journey of Bearhead to outwit the evil character Hexba and return home. The reader is drawn to Bearhead as he follows directions in a childlike manner with a literal interpretation, throwing the table out of the window, for example, when asked to clear the dinner table. The ending to this tale is satisfying, and contains many attributes of a traditional tale, such as repetition of a problem, and good triumphing over evil. The illustrations of watercolor and colored pencil beautifully complement and extend the story, providing details not mentioned in the text. The reader is able to linger over the detailed illustrations, as the layout of the text is set apart from the illustrations. Bearhead is a tale that will make children smile as they listen and also as they explore the details of the parent culture, old-world Russian, illustrations.

Review Excerpt(s):
"A satisfying story in a handsome setting. (Picture book. 4-10)."
~Kirkus Reviews

“Still, this is a satisfying tale, and children will delight in the winning hero's literal interpretations of orders. Ages 5-8.” 
~Publisher’s weekly

~Read other books by Eric Kimmel:
Anansi and the Moss-covered Rock by Eric Kimmel and Janet Stevens  
The Three Little Tamales by Eric A. Kimmel and Valeria Docampo 
A Cloak For the Moon by Eric A. Kimmel,
      Retold by Katya Krenina, Illustrator, Eric A. Kimmel, Author
Robin Hook, Pirate Hunter! Eric A. Kimmel, Author, Michael Dooling, Illustrator