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Swimmy Hardcover – March 12, 1963


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Frequently Bought Together

Swimmy + Frederick + Inch by Inch
Price for all three: $38.63

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 3 - 7 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 2
  • Lexile Measure: 640L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers; First Edition edition (March 12, 1963)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0394817133
  • ISBN-13: 978-0394817132
  • Product Dimensions: 11.2 x 9 x 0.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #56,675 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“An exquisite picture book.” —School Library Journal (Starred Review)

“Each of his [Lionni’s] books is self-consistent, a world unto itself. . . . Here is Swimmy: a tiny, insignificant fish in the vast and wide ocean who is ingenious enough to fend off the big, bad bully.” —Eric Carle, author of The Very Hungry Caterpillar


From the Trade Paperback edition.

From the Inside Flap

Illus. in color. "An exquisite picture book. A little fish, the lone survivor of a school of fish swallowed by a tuna, devises a plan to camouflage himself and his new companions."--(starred) School Library Journal.

From the Trade Paperback edition.


More About the Author

author spotlight
"From time to time, from the endless flow of our mental imagery, there emerges unexpectedly something that, vague though it may be, seems to carry the promise of a form, a meaning, and, more important, an irresistible poetic charge."--Leo Lionni

Leo Lionni wrote and illustrated more than 40 highly acclaimed children's books. He received the 1984 American Institute of Graphic Arts Gold Medal and was a four-time Caldecott Honor Winner--for Inch by Inch, Frederick, Swimmy, and Alexander and the Wind-Up Mouse. Leo Lionni died in October of 1999 at his home in Tuscany, Italy, at the age of 89.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

"Of all the questions I have been asked as an author of children's books, the most frequent one, without doubt, has been 'How do you get your ideas?' Most people seem to think that getting an idea is both mysterious and simple. Mysterious, because inspiration must come from a particular state of grace with which only the most gifted souls are blessed. Simple, because ideas are expected to drop into one's mind in words and pictures, ready to be transcribed and copied in the form of a book, complete with endpapers and cover. The word get expresses these expectations well. Yet nothing could be further from the truth.

"It is true that, from time to time, from the endless flow of our mental imagery, there emerges unexpectedly something that, vague though it may be, seems to carry the promise of a form, a meaning, and, more important, an irresistible poetic charge. The sense of instant recognition with which we pull this image into the full light of our consciousness is the initial impulse of all creative acts. But, though it is important, it produces no more than the germ of an idea. Each book, at the birth of its creative history, has such a moment. Some are fortunate enough to have, from the outset, a strongly identified hero, one with an inescapable destiny. Others are blessed with a promising beginning, or perhaps with the vision of an ending (which means working backwards to a surprise opening). Others stem from a clearly articulated conflict situation. Sometimes, I must admit, the motivations of a book may be found in a sudden, unreasonable urge to draw a certain kind of crocodile. And it may even happen that in the dark of our minds there appears, out of nowhere, a constellation of words that has the bright, arrogant solidity of a title. Only last night I was jolted out of a near-slumber by the words the mouse that didn't exist. I am sure that, temporarily tucked away in my memory, they will eventually become the title of a story for which as yet I have no idea.

"To shape and sharpen the logic of a story, to tighten the flow of events, ultimately to define the idea in its totality, is much like a game of chess. In the light of overall strategy, each move is the result of doubts, proposals, and rejections, which inevitably bring to mind the successes or failures of previous experiences.

"Inspirational raptures may happen, but most books are shaped through hard, disciplined work. Creative work, to be sure, because its ingredients come from the sphere of the imaginary. But the manipulation of these ingredients requires much more than mere inclination or talent. It is an intricate process in which the idea slowly takes form, by trial and error, through detours and side roads, which, were it not for the guidance of professional rigor, would lead the author into an inextricable labyrinth of alternatives.

"And so, to the question 'How do you get your ideas?' I am tempted to answer, unromantic though it may sound, 'Hard work.' "


Leo Lionni has gained international renown for his paintings, graphic designs, illustrations, and sculpture, as well as for his books for children. He was born in Holland in 1910 of Dutch parents, and although his education did not include formal art courses (in fact, he has a doctorate in economics from the University of Genoa), he spent much of his free time as a child in Amsterdam's museums, teaching himself to draw.

Lionni's business training gradually receded into the background as his interest in art and design grew. Having settled in Milan soon after his marriage in 1931, he started off by writing about European architecture for a local magazine. It was there that he met the contacts who were to give him a start as a professional graphic designer. When he moved to America in 1939, Lionni was hired by a Philadelphia advertising agency as art director. Later he became design director for the Olivetti Corporation of America, and then art director for Fortune magazine. At the same time, his reputation as an artist flourished as he began to exhibit his paintings and drawings in galleries from New York to Japan.

Lionni launched his career as an author/illustrator of books for children in 1959. Originally developed from a story he had improvised for his grandchildren during a dull train ride, Little Blue and LittleYellow was the first of what is now a long list of children's picture books, including four Caldecott Honor Books.

Customer Reviews

This book is a must for every child's library.
Jodie Thompson
I like that I can use this book at the beginning of the year to teach my students about the community of learners environment in my classroom.
Ms. Steelman
Beautiful illustrations as well as a wonderful story.
bella

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

66 of 66 people found the following review helpful By slomamma on July 20, 2001
Format: Paperback
A lot of children's books deal with sharing and getting along with others. A lot try to help children be themselves. The brilliance of Leo Lionni is that in book after book he brings these two ideas together, showing children that they can be themselves and care about others at the same time. Many of Lionni's best books - Frederick, Alexander and the Wind-Up Mouse, Tico and the Golden Wings, and Swimmy - all deal with this theme.
Of all these, Swimmy is probably the one with the most immediate appeal to small children. The idea of little fish banding together to scare off the big bully fish is really empowering to small children. And the illustrations are delightful.
As a writer and former English teacher, I also love Lionni's simple poetic language. You have to love a writer who writes about "an eel whose tail was almost too far away to remember" and describes sea anemones as "pink palm trees swaying in the wind." Hearing such beautiful and evocative language from an early age can't help but make children better readers and writers later on.
If I could, I'd send every baby home from the hospital with one of Rosemary Wells' Max books and this book. It belongs in every library.
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39 of 41 people found the following review helpful By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on April 26, 2004
Format: Paperback
Ah, Swimmy. You charming little guppy. This books wins the award for Subtlest-Book-About-Diversity for 1963. It is wholly and entirely charming. Swimmy is the only little fish amongst his brothers and sisters who was born black instead of red. A faster fish than all of them, Swimmy has the mixed blessing of being able to out swim a big fish that has come to devour his family. Poor Swimmy is left all alone in the world, but his sadness doesn't last for very long. The undersea world is full of wonders, including medusas made of rainbow jelly, a forest of seaweeds growing from sugar candy rocks, and sea anemones that look like, "pink palm trees swaying in the wind". When Swimmy stumbles across another group of small red fish, his quick thinking helps them to band together to fight the larger fish in the sea.
For any kid that loved "Finding Nemo", I think this book would be an excellent companion. The lesson is twofold. One is that when people band together they can fight the unnaturally large problems facing them. Another is that being different, like Swimmy, can be a wonderful thing. I'm sure you're going to read reviews from people decrying this book as Communist propaganda (after all, it's a bunch of red fish finding strength in numbers to defeat the more powerful members of society that were previously eating them), and that's fine. It could definitely be read that way, and there's nothing wrong with that. But for those of you who feel that the book was probably meant to be read as a story for children and that's that, you're undoubtedly more correct.
Leo Lionni is a magnificent artist, by the way. No one draws jellyfish with as much light and airy oomph as he does. The sea's wonders are all alight here, with little black Swimmy eyeing each and every one.
Read more ›
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Jodie Thompson on July 25, 2000
Format: School & Library Binding
This book is a must for every child's library. There are so many topics of discussion that can be brought out with just this one book. Friendship, courage, cooperation, and the ocean life are just a few. If you are a teacher, or have young children, this book is a must.
Note to teachers: I use this during my ocean unit in kindergarten. We then make an ocean mural. Every child makes a red fish and I make a black fish, which is Swimmy. We then work together to make all of our fish look like one big fish. The children love it!
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 28, 1999
Format: Paperback
I love to read this to our students in our children's library. It's lessons are so varied. Teamwork, thinking creatively and being different are all topics to discuss after this great read. The illustrations and language are simply astounding. It is an underwater dreamscape that provokes contemplation for adults as well as children!
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 18, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Who couldn't love the adorable fish that devises the perfect plan. At first this tiny little black fish is the only survivor of his large group of red fish. All alone he sets off to explore the ocean I love how Leo Lionni describes the sea animals Swimmy meets along the way. "The sea anemones, who look like pink palm trees swaying in the wind" and "an eel whose tail was almost too far away remember." Finally Swimmy meets up with another group of friends but they are afraid to explore the ocean like Swimmy does. So Swimmy devises a plan where all the fish group together in the shape of a large fish with Swimmy as the eye. All together they are safe from danger. This book teaches children do many great lessons. It shows them how when you work together you can do anything! This is an excellent book to use in classrooms with young children!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 12, 1998
Format: Hardcover
As a child, this was my favorite book. Reading it as adult to my own daughter, I marvel at the author's use of words to create the incredible imagery of the sea. I remember as a child being spellbound by his descriptions of the "eel whose tail was almost too far away to remember", and the "lobster who walked about like a water-moving machine." Even if this book had no illustrations, it would be a treasure. However, the water color illustrations are beyond beautiful. Not surprisingly, my own two year old daughter is enthralled by this book, just as I was. I recommend it for pre-school through elementary age children (and for those adults among us who never grew up!)
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