Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Swimmy” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


4.11 of 5 stars 4.11  ·  rating details  ·  12,743 ratings  ·  340 reviews
Deep in the sea there lives a happy school of little fish. Their watery world is full of wonders, but there is also danger, and the little fish are afraid to come out of hiding . . . until Swimmy comes along. Swimmy shows his friends how—with ingenuity and team work—they can overcome any danger. With its graceful text and stunning artwork, this Caldecott Honor Book deserve...more
Paperback, 32 pages
Published April 12th 1973 by Dragonfly Books (first published 1963)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Swimmy, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Swimmy

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice SendakThe Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric CarleThe Giving Tree by Shel SilversteinGreen Eggs and Ham by Dr. SeussGoodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
Best Children's Books
219th out of 3,071 books — 4,557 voters
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric CarleIn the Night Kitchen by Maurice SendakThe Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian SelznickThe Wolves in the Walls by Neil GaimanThe Lorax by Dr. Seuss
Picture Books With Amazing Art
12th out of 216 books — 131 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
What an odd little book! It recounts the adventures of Swimmy after his school of fish is eaten and he seeks out to find a new one. Along the way, he meets other sea creatures. Some of the phrases are quite good, "and eel whose tail was almost too far away to remember" and some are quite dull, "a strange fish pulled by an invisible thread." The illustrations interesting but not altogether my cup of tea, though I appreciate their merits. Overall, not a favorite, but I'm glad I was able to read th...more
I used this book to teach finding theme to my high school students. Some of them thought it was dumb, but a lot of them (who thought that it was dumb before we started) ended up actually liking it a lot.

It's a good book, and a good one to read with kids. It's a simple story, but told very well and it really does show the wonders of broadening your mind and being yourself and working together to get things done. It's a good book. It's worth reading, even if you only skim it in the book store.
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...more
Sep 29, 2008 Dolly rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: parents reading to their children
Cute story and fascinating, gorgeous illustrations. Again, Leo Lionni delves into the matter-of-factness of life and shows that one little fish can make a difference. We really enjoyed reading this book together.
Stephanie RDG3320
This book is by far one of my favorites. The two lessons behind this story are that (1) it is ok to be different and to embrace being unique and (2) when people join and collaboratively work with one another you can accomplish any big task ahead of you. This would be a great story to read at the beginning of the school year and to any age! When you begin the year with this book it allows you flow right into the idea that in the classroom we are all going to embrace and welcome everyone's differe...more
Rachel Ledbetter
Swimmy is a little black fish in the sea that is a part of a school of all red fish, which makes him different and stand out. As a group of small fish, the sea is a dangerous place because you can become prey for bigger fish. This school of fish remains scared in hiding until Swimmy comes along. Although different in color, Swimmy befriends these other red fish and comes up with something brilliant so all of the fish can go out in the open sea without fear. This story teaches that one small fish...more
Kassidy Pine
Swimmy by Leo Lionni is a creative book that demonstrates the story of a young fish named Swimmy who is a lone black fish with red brothers and sisters. Swimmy’s sibling reach an unfortunate fate, causing him to be on his own. He goes on to discover the beauty of the sea, from the rainbow jelly, to the forest of seaweeds. He comes upon another school of red fish hidden away in the away in the shadows and he soon realizes he must find a way for these fish to swim freely in the open without being...more
Illustrated by Leo Lionni
Published: 1963
Fiction, Picture book

This book is about a black fish named Swimmy that is left all alone after his brothers and sisters were eaten by a big fish. Swimmy was able to escape the big fish because he was a fast swimmer. Swimmy sees many of the wonders of the ocean while swimming but becomes lonely. He finds a new school of fish to swim with but they are afraid of being eaten by the big fish so they do not want to venture out with Swimmy. Swimmy teaches...more
Swimmy is a picture book for children in preschool through grade 2. It is a Caldecott Honor book, as well as an ALA Notable Children’s Book and a New York Times Illustrated Children’s Book of the Year. A little fish named swimmy is the only black fish in a large school of red fish. One day, he is the only one who escapes being eaten. He goes on a journey and experiences all the wonders of the ocean and eventually finds a new school to join. Together, they find a new way to survive. This is a gre...more
As a 50th Anniversary edition, you know it's got to be a classic. Indeed, it is.

Swimmy is a little black fish. He swims the big sea alone much of the time and is lonely. He does find other small fish to be fearful of those big fish, the predator fish. Swimmy comes up with a wonderful teamwork plan to keep them safe and yet able to swim in their ocean rather than staying huddled up inside a cavern or behind a rock. It is their home too, you know.

This is a book filled with great illustrations th...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Bethany Lockhart
I've used this book in my theatre classes and language arts class. As an educator, I've found so many opportunities for movement, crafts, creating dialogue, character building, teamwork, etc... in this one little book. I love working with it and the kids I've worked with have loved it too.
Kayla Fjellbo
If you're having trouble with a bully, make yourself bigger. At least that worked in Swimmy's world. Swimmy is a small, black fish who sees all of his friends being eaten by bigger fish. Instead of cowering down and giving up, Swimmy decides to fight back. This animated tale shows that it only takes one bright idea, to come up with a solution.

If you want good book to teach a child a lesson, Swimmy is the book to choose. Lionni use of playful imaginative scenes such as; "Strange fish pulled by an...more
While I didn't care for the story as much, I did enjoy looking at the illustrations. I thought that it had a nice, clever ending. I'd recommend it.

*Taken from my book reviews blog:
Paula Heller
After reading this book, it reminded me of the story, Rudolf the Red-nosed Reindeer. If you love that story, you will love this one too, because it has the same great message behind it. This story teaches children to be happy with themselves no matter how they look or seem different from everyone else. Their ability or look can makes a difference in the lives of others. Rudolf helped Santa and the other reindeer see in the dark, and Swimmy helped his friends become a large fish by becoming the...more
Kelly Ramsey
Swimmy the name given to the little fish was very diffrent. This was a very interesting story about the life on the oceans floors. Swimmy showed the other fishes how to protect and serve on the ocean floors. For young children the fishes shows them how to communitcate effectively and howw to work as one unit. Swimmy had great pictures that where frome pretty and child freindly. If the chioldren where ask to draw them it could be easily be done with there touch of immagination.

Learning Experience...more
Jun 09, 2014 Sarah rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: kids
Swimmy is a beautiful story about a little fish whose school gets eaten by a large tuna. He is the only survivor, and strikes out to find a new group of fish to swim with. When he finds them, they are afraid to swim out because they do not want to be eaten by larger fish. Swimmy shows them how to work together so that if they stay as a group they will be safe from large predators.
This book has beautiful illustrations and gorgeous language. Also, when reading stories to my children I love a book...more
Cute concept, awkward but adequate text, but absolutely gorgeous pictures. I want the Medusa blown up huge for my wall.
Kathryn Brunk
There are many descriptive adjectives throughout this book. I love the nautical theme and the social-emotional message to the book. It tells a story of a beautiful and plentiful sea with many dangers, but the fear associated with the dangers shouldn’t stop you from living. There are several sea creature introduced and this would be a great book to read during an aquatic themed lesson.

Learning Experience- I would prepare lacing die cuts of ocean animals so the children could lace the sea creatur...more
I did not like the pictures in this book but the story was wonderful about teamwork. Teaches children to face their fears. Children will learn to explore on their own or with a group new things. Shows how one fish can change the outlook of others in a positive way. Encouraging, fearlessness.

L.E. ~ Have children work together as a team. If one child is struggling with a concept and a student who has mastered the concept help the child.

Teach children about differences but we are all the same and h...more
Tishandra Mayfield
I give this book a 5/5 stars. The illustrations were really good and gave you a clear understanding of what type of animals live underwater. I would be sure to read this book to my class.

Cut out different colors of fish and have the children put these fish in categories. Discuss how fish use their gills and fins to get around. Also, ask the children if they know what a pack of fish are called (explain that they are called a school of fish) and what kinds of food that a fish eats. At the end of t...more
Kevin Wright
Easily my favorite children's book of all time. Swimmy shows kids (and adults) that, with a little creativity and cooperation, the little guy can stand up to the big guy and win. Lionni's unconventional artwork is stunning with its bold designs and intricate textures. But, as beautiful as it is to look at, it also serves the story. Swimmy also shows us that the best way to deal with loss and fear and sorrow is to turn your attention to the wonders of this world, to "swim and play and SEE things!...more
Shanna Gonzalez
Swimmy is a small black fish, part of a school of small red fish, and when a large tuna eats the rest of his school, he finds himself alone and frightened. He travels through the sea, viewing many strange sights, until he finds another school of red fish. When he asks them to come exploring with him, they are too afraid of being eaten; but he devises a way to venture forth safely, and together they chase the bigger fish away. This simple adventure is illustrated in an unusual collage of ink-prin...more
Beverly Cagle
Sep 22, 2012 Beverly Cagle rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: children of all ages and fish
Swimmy is a story of a fish that is different and unique in comparison to the other fish. However, they are almost on the verge of getting eaten but Swimmy is the only one to escape. He looks beyond his own school of fish and is able to explore the world he lives in. Feeling very lonely scared and sad, Swimmy is amazed at the wonders of the sea and the creatures he encounters that he becomes happy again. He comes across another school of fish who are trying to escape a predator. Swimmy then mobi...more
Teri Patterson
This book takes us on an underwater adventure using unusual, stamped and swishy images that show a big world in which a small fish bravely explores. At first he is sad and lonely, but then he sees marvelous things. When he meets new friends he figures out a way for them to all safely explore the big, wonderful world. Swimmy learned from something bad that happened and used clever problem-solving to save the day.

Vocabulary: lonely, marvel, school (fish), mussel, fierce

Genre: diverse populations

Number of Pages: 32

Grade Level or Age: 4-8 years

Theme: loss of family, survival

Swimmy is a brave little fish who is not like the rest of his family. He is black, the rest of them are red. His family members can't swim very fast but he can out-swim any of them. One day, a big fish comes and eats his family, leaving him the sole survivor. Not knowing what else to do, Swimmy does what he does best...swims. On his journey, he encounters new, scary, and fa...more
Necole Penn
Swimmy has a unique name and also a interesting story about the life under the ocean/sea. The fish have always been that character that ends up talking in movies or books but children understand they can't really talk. These fish had each others back and showed children how to communitcate to get the job done and stay protected as a team or as a family. Children should learn the names of these fishes under the sea to allow them to learn more animals that live on the beach, which is considered th...more
Vanessa Maeda
Main Characters: Swimmy
Setting: in the sea
POV: 3rd Person


Swimmy, an adorable and charming little guppy, is the only little fish among his brothers and sisters who was born black instead of red. Although swimmy is small, he has the ability to swim faster than all of the others and actually out swims a big fish that has come to devour his family. As Swimmy is left alone in the deep ocean, he comes in contact with different sea creatures of all shapes and sizes. As he comes in contact with...more
Natalie Sabbath
Main Characters: Swimmy
Setting: The Sea
POV: Third Person

Summary: “Swimmy,” by Leo Lionni is a children’s book about finding your place in the world. Swimmy is a little black fish in a school of little red fish. Swimmy is the only fish that looks different, and one day when a big fish comes by and eats all of the little red fish up in one big gulp, Swimmy is left alone as the only fish who got away. Swimmy explores the sea, seeing lots of new and interesting things. Swimmy eventually comes upon...more
This picture book is beautifully illustrated with watercolor paintings. It tells a story about "Swimmy" a little fish that was totally different from all others in his family. Everyone in his family was red colored, but he was black. Swimmy survives a ferocious attack from a tuna and is left with no family. He swims through the ocean and marvels on the beauty of other fish and life in the ocean. He finds another school of fish like his own and joins them. Swimmy teaches them how to work together...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
MCC Children's Li...: Swimmy - Challice 3 3 Mar 04, 2012 09:27AM  
MCC Children's Li...: Picture Book 2 1 1 Feb 21, 2012 09:13PM  
  • Yo! Yes?
  • The Stray Dog
  • Tar Beach
  • Freight Train
  • Ben's Trumpet
  • A House for Hermit Crab
  • It Could Always Be Worse: A Yiddish Folk Tale
  • Noah's Ark
  • What Do You Do With a Tail Like This?
  • First the Egg
  • The Paperboy
  • Anatole (Anatole #1)
  • Song of the Water Boatman and Other Pond Poems
  • Hot Air: The (Mostly) True Story of the First Hot-Air Balloon Ride
  • Snow
  • Peppe the Lamplighter
  • On Market Street
  • A Chair for My Mother
Leo Lionni wrote and illustrated more than 40 highly acclaimed children's books. He received the 1984 American Institute of Graphic Arts Gold Medal and was a four-time Caldecott Honor Winner--for Inch by Inch, Frederick, Swimmy, and Alexander and the Wind-Up Mouse. Leo Lionni died in October of 1999 at his home in Tuscany, Italy, at the age of 89.

Leo Lionni has gained international...more
More about Leo Lionni...
A Color of His Own Frédéric Alexander and the Wind-Up Mouse Inch by Inch Little Blue and Little Yellow

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »