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Simple, life-affirming book about relationships.

What parents need to know

Violence & scariness

The title character is briefly left alone and sad after a predator swallows his fellow fish.

Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this book will keep kids engrossed from the sad beginning to the triumphant ending, enjoying the simple but dramatic plot, intriguing text, and dreamlike illustrations.

Kids say

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What's the story?

Swimmy is the sole survivor of an encounter between a school of small fish and a tuna. When he meets a new group of his kind hiding among the rocks, he is determined to hatch a plan so they can safely explore their world. This visually rich, life-affirming book teaches kids that relationships matter.


Is it any good?


SWIMMY succeeds in conveying an important moral lesson with a sense of grace. There's nothing heavy-handed here, just a simple tale about a humble little fish who is passionate about life. Kids learn about perseverance, cooperation, and the power of unity.

The watercolor prints are vivid, and the lyrical language has a wide appeal, lulling the youngest children, challenging new readers, and keeping older kids (and even adults) engaged. Creatures come alive through descriptions like that of a lobster "who walked about like a water-moving machine." Even the seaweed seems magical. This is a little picture book that feels as big as the sea. It may very well become one of your family's favorites.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about Swimmy's experiences. What important things about life and relationships does he learn? How does he end up learning these things?

Book details

Author:Leo Lionni
Illustrator:Leo Lionni
Genre:Picture Book
Book type:Fiction
Publication date:April 12, 1973
Number of pages:28

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Parent of a 1 year old Written byBubeh December 19, 2011

Little Fish Teaches Big Lesson

Swimmy shows the other fish how each can have a better life when they all work together. The lesson is taught simply and without preaching. Adults and children alike will love the watercolor illustrations in this Caldecott Honor book.
What other families should know
Great role models