Author: Leo Lionni
Genre: Animals / Drama / Family / Danger
Year Published: 1963
Year Read: 2010
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
Content Rating: Ages 5+ (Some Scary Scenes and Death of a Family Member)
I have have heard works from Dr. Seuss, Maurice Sendak, Marc Brown and David Wiesner, but I have finally stumbled upon some works that came from my childhood a long time ago and those works consist of Leo Lionni! “Swimmy” is a Caldecott Honor book by Leo Lionni and it is about how an unusual little fish named Swimmy, who survives a giant fish attack, tries to find another family to live with. “Swimmy” may have an intense scene with the big fish that might frighten small children, but I am pretty sure that most children will easily enjoy this book!
Once there lived a happy school of small fish who were all red except for one fish was black and his name was Swimmy. One terrible day however, a huge tuna fish came by and swallowed up all of the red fish except for Swimmy who had escape from the huge tuna. Swimmy, now the sole survivor of a tuna attack, then swims around in the deep watery world by himself in order to find a new family to be in.
Will Swimmy find a new family?
Read this book to find out!
Never have I read a children's book that has both effective drawings and a heartwarming story at the same time as Leo Lionni has made this book! Leo Lionni has done an excellent job at both illustrating and writing this book as it details the adventures of a unique black fish named Swimmy. Leo Lionni's illustrations might look a little bit simplistic, however, they are extremely effective and colorful, especially of the images of the underwater world where it seems that Leo Lionni took a piece of sponge and patted the background with the painted sponge, which really brings out the creativity of the images of the underwater world. The image that truly stood out the most for me was the image of Swimmy himself as he is shown to be the only black fish among a group of red fishes, who merely look like red outlines of fish. Leo Lionni has certainly made this book extremely intense yet heartwarming at the same time as I have felt sympathy for Swimmy after he lost his family to a tuna fish and I can understand how many children and adults will also sympathize with Swimmy's predicament, especially if they lost loved ones to an accident.
Parents should know that at the beginning of this book, Swimmy's family is eaten by a giant tuna fish and that might be too upsetting for smaller children to handle. On a side note, this scene strongly reminds me of a scene in “Finding Nemo” where Marlon's family except Nemo is also eaten by a huge fish and how Marlon has to cope with protecting his only son from anymore danger. Parents might want to discuss about death of a family member with their children before they read them this book.
Overall, “Swimmy” is a highly emotional and heartwarming book for children who have also lost their family members and how they can still find love among friends and other family members. I personally would recommend this book to anyone who loves Leo Lionni's works and learning about what it takes to be a true family. I would recommend this book to children ages five and up since the scene where the big fish eats all the other fish might scare smaller children.
* 1964 Caldecott Honor
* 1965 Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis for Bilderbuch
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