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review 2018-09-09 16:33
Just Keep Swimming
Swimmy - Leo Lionni

Leo Lionni tells the story of a lone black fish named Swimmy who escaped a horrible fate, leaving him alone in the big sea. At first Swimmy is very lonely and sad, but after venturing through the ocean and seeing many marvelous creatures, he is determined to see the world. He encourages a school of red fish, just like his own, to join him. Through the power of teamwork, Swimmy and the school of red fish all swim close together, creating one giant fish with Swimmy as the eye. Together they are able to chase the big fish away. 


This is a beautifully illustrated story about the power of teamwork. I would use this story to discuss the benefits of working together as well as embracing individuality and showing bravery in the midst of fear. It's also important to note that no matter how small you think you may be, you have the ability to make a BIG difference! Students could talk or write about the ways that they can practice teamwork. 


Swimmy is also a great book for teaching similes and metaphors. ("as black as a mussel shell", "sea anemones, who looked like pink palm trees swaying in the wind", etc.)


Lexile Level: AD580L

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review 2017-09-12 01:50
Swimmy by Leo Lionni
Swimmy - Leo Lionni

Title:  Swimmy

Author:  Leo Lionni

Genre:  Animals / Drama / Family / Danger

Year Published: 1963

Year Read:  2010

Publisher:  Alfred A. Knopf

Source:  Library

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.

Review is also on: Rabbit Ears Book Blog


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review 2016-08-27 18:42
Alexander and the Wind-Up Mouse
Alexander and the Wind-Up Mouse - Leo Lionni

Alexander and the Wind-Up Mouse is a sweet story about friendship and differences. The story involves a mouse named Alexander and a wind-up mouse named Willy.  They quickly becomes friends.  When Willy is suddenly in danger of being thrown out, Alexander uses an opportunity where he could have helped himself, to instead help Willy. 


This book would be great for kindergarten through 2nd grade.  It teaches about selflessness and consideration. It also teaches that even though someone might look the same on the outside, they can be very different on the inside. 


I would have small reading groups read this story and pause at certain parts of the book to ask what they think might happen next.  I might draw a picture of what they think might happen next and have them share it with their group. 

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review 2016-03-01 20:47
Tico and the Golden Wings
Tico and the Golden Wings - Leo Lionni

I would highly recommend using this book in a second grade classroom, especially if the students are doing a study on the author, Leo Lionni. The fictional story about a bird and his gift of golden wings teaches students about the importance of giving to others and how you can use your talents/gifts to help those in need. After using this text for my guided reading lesson plan, I found that there are multiple activities that can be done with this book, preferably in a small group setting. Some of the different lesson ideas include a picture walk, pulling unfamiliar words from the text and reviewing them with students before reading the story, completing a graphic organizer featuring characters and major events, or even having students discuss what they thought the main idea was. This book can very easily be implemented into the classroom! 

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review 2014-07-07 00:00
Tico and the Golden Wings
Tico and the Golden Wings - Leo Lionni This story is about a wingless bird whose friends have to care for him because he can't fend for himself. What nice friends!
Or are they?
When Tico's dreams come true in the form of a lovely pair of golden wings, Tico's friends reveal themselves for who they really are: Jerks. Now that he doesn't depend on them, now that his wings are shiny and beautiful, now that he has found happiness in flight, the friends decide Tico is uppity and feels superior to them, despite him having neither said nor implied any such belief. As a result, they abandon him, leaving him confused.
Tico's friends are serious jerks.
However, this offers Tico the opportunity to learn a valuable lesson: When you come into good fortune, share it with those who are less fortunate. That does not include former friends who will no longer speak to you. It does, however, include hardworking individuals who are doing the best they can and just need a leg up...like the puppeteer and the lost fisherman.
Yay, good lessons! You get a star!
Even better (for Tico, not for me. I am a petty, vengeful person), Tico learns the lesson of forgiveness (a second star!) because every time he gives away a golden feather to help someone in need, the feather is replaced by a normal feather and soon, his wings are black just like the wings of all the other birds. In the end, he goes home and is accepted by all his jerk friends who exclaim, "Oh goody! You look just like us so now we can be friends again!" and he is excited that all he ever needed to have friends was either a disability to make others feel superior and useful in relation OR conformity to make others feel like they belong. In his heart of hearts, however, he is pleased to know that everyone is different, even if they look the same. He keeps this secret to himself for fear of losing his newly re-found jerk friends.
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