Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

Swimmy

Lionni, Leo (Author/Illustrator)
Penguin Random House 1991. 32 pages
First published: 1963
ISBN: 9780394826202 (paperback)
Original language: English
Book type: Picture Book

Text Elements:

point of view

Award

Caldecott Honor Book – 1964

Reading Range

 
Cycle
Elementary
Secondary
 
1
2
3
1
2
ELA
K
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5

Description:

This simple story relates little Swimmy’s narrow escape from a hungry tuna, and his lone journey through ocean waters, where he meets other creatures, such as a jellyfish, a lobster and an eel.

Colourful illustrations using ink-stamp effects create an artful and textural underwater world. The pinks and blues of the jellyfish mingle to fading purples, as its tentacles reach down the page. A seaweed forest seems to be stamped from lace. Through all these wonders, tiny Swimmy can be found, a plain black fish with a wide, bright eye. Readers may be inspired to create their own stamp-effect scenes.

Poetic language, such as “an eel whose tail was almost too far away to remember,” turns practical when Swimmy finally meets others of his kind, also hiding from all the predators: “‘you can’t just lie there,’ said Swimmy. ‘We must THINK of something.’”

The power of community and resourceful thinking is the final message of this gentle fable. Swimmy and his new friends learn to swim in fish-shaped formation, so they are free to explore: “they swam in the cool morning water and in the midday sun and chased the big fish away.”

  •  

    As you read, pay attention to the interesting ways the author describes the sea animals. Act out what you think he means by phrases such as, “walked about like a water-moving machine” or “pulled by an invisible thread.”

  •  Play charades with a group or the class. Mime the different sea creatures from the story and see who can guess which one you are.
  •  Draw or write to show an example of a time when you thought it was better for children to cooperate than to act alone. How is this example similar to what the fish in the story did?
  •  

    As the book is read aloud, pay attention to the way the author describes the sea animals. Make a class list of the sea plants and animals. Add their descriptions.

  •  

    Discuss the feelings Swimmy experienced throughout the story.

  •  

    Research the plants and fish found in a body of water that is close to your school. Describe them in a similar way.

  •  

    Notice the style of the illustrations. Create a similar class representation of the life to be found in a chosen pond, lake or river. Add descriptions.

  • To construct his/her identity
  • To cooperate with others
  • Citizenship and Community Life
  • Visual Arts
  • This Is Not My Hat (J. Klassen) (Setting)
    Happy (M. van Hout) (Topic)