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Swimmy Hardcover – March 12, 1963

4.7 out of 5 stars 118 customer reviews

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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 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.

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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: 9.1 x 0.4 x 11.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (118 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #32,365 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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.
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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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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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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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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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