A delightful new twist on an old tale!

There was an old sailor who swallowed a krill. I don’t know why he swallowed the krill – it’ll make him ill … A nautical take on a much-loved rhyme.


Claire Saxby was born in Melbourne and grew up in Newcastle. She’s lived in more houses than she can remember, and attended many schools. Claire is the author of many books including There Was an Old Sailor, illustrated by Cassandra Allen, which won the Crystal Kite Member Choice Award, Australia and New Zealand Division, Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, 2011.

Cassandra Allen was born and raised in Australia, and now lives in France, drawing almost every day and soaking up the wonders of life in Europe. After moving to Europe her career grew wings and she began illustrating children's books, amongst other editorial work for many years.


The rhythm of the language is captivating even the youngest toddler and the pictures are engaging and beautifully imagined. It is a story that has become a favourite in our household.


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.

Kids Can Press

The rhythm, the humour, the sheer absurdity of it all made that book such a winner – and in this cleverly penned sea-faring version, author Claire Saxby has taken the absurdity up a whole other level . . . with her central character swallowing none other than a blue whale!..Rhythmically penned, the story is beautifully complemented by Allen’s stunning illustrations in whimiscal seaside colours… with an enormous dash of humour.

Kids' Book Review

Another version of favourite nursery rhyme There was an old woman who swallowed a fly. This old sailor is just as voracious as his counterpart in the original, though in this case he has a penchant for sea food. He starts with a krill and ends with a whale. Along the way there are squids and rays and jellies, in sometimes dubious feeding relationships but lots of rhyming words to go with them. The water colour illustrations are bold and colorful and match the vitality and exuberance of this popular rhyme.

4MBS Classic FM


Crystal Kite Award
Speech Pathology Book of the Year Awards, 3-5 Years
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