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I Know a Shy Fellow Who Swallowed a Cello

Last updated Thursday, February 21, 2008

Author: Barbara Garriel
Illustrator: John O'Brien
Date of Publication: 2004
ISBN: 1590780434
Grade Level: 1st    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Mar. 2008

Synopsis: From School Library Journal: This goofy adaptation of "I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly" begins, "I know a shy fellow/ who swallowed a cello./I don't know why he swallowed a cello./Perhaps he'll bellow." The instruments the man guzzles come from a wide variety of venues, including a sax from a jazz ensemble, a fiddle from a rockabilly band, and a kazoo from a child's birthday party. When he imbibes "the teeniest, tiniest, petite cascabel," his belly finally rebels and out of his mouth "jingled the bell," "buzzed the kazoo," "tooted the flute," etc., until "last but not least,/out cha-chaed the cello!" This is a high-spirited and amusing story, and most of the rhythms work well. O'Brien's dynamic cartoons, highlighted with energetic pen-and-ink lines, vibrate with color and action. The main character continually changes shape to reflect the proportions of each instrument he consumes, and his antics are a good match for this silly but enjoyable romp.

Note to readers:
•  Here are some vocabularly words you may want to explain: fellow, cello, bellow, jam, twiddle, nimble, hoot, teeniest, tiniest, petite, cascabel, wiggled, rumbled, tumbled, quivered, quake, swivelled, swelled, wee, belched, wallowed, weaved, tooted, strummed, galoot.

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  What is a cello?
•  Does the person on the cover look like a cello?
•  What is he holding across his body? What is it used for? (A bow, used to play strings on the cello.)

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  Can a person swallow a cello?
•  Did the fellow ask to have each instrument or did he just take it?
•  Is it right to take things without permission?
•  Have you ever seen a marching band?
•  Have you played a kazoo? Do you play any instruments?
•  Do you think he could live with all those instruments in his stomach?
•  Were the people glad to get their instruments back from the fellow?
•  What happens at the end of the book at all the people and their instruments? (They play together)
•  Have you ever listened to a music concert?

Craft ideas:
•  Draw a large shy fellow. Then cut out instruments or draw instruments in his belly.
•  Make a collage of different musical instruments
•  Make a shy fellow mobile. Draw a shy fellow, and then attach pictures of instruments with string to his belly.

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don't have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!