PPBF: Swimmy…Group Dynamics with an Awesome Upstander


Today is Perfect Picture Book Friday where I link up with Susanna Leonard Hill’s fantastic group of picture book writers, illustrators, librarians and others who contribute a picture book review and related resources for parents, teachers and children.

Before we begin the picture book review, here are some IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENTS:

1.      The Show-Me-How School Initiative is still looking for A FEW GOOD SCHOOLS.   We only have a couple of days left for you to leave a comment on this post, telling which school or other child-care facility you would like to nominate to receive a free copy of Show Me How!  In the first week of October, we will pick 12 lucky schools via Random.org

2.      Show Me How! has received another lovely review…this time from Beth Stilborn, fellow 12x12er, and PPBF participant.  If you’d like to see what Beth had to say about it, please click this link.  If you’ve never been to her blog, By Word of Beth, hurry over…you’ll be glad you did…her posts are funny, informative and not-to-be-missed!

3.      Earlier this year I connected with a children’s author in Singapore, Emily Lim.  It was just before their big Asian Festival of Children’s Content, where kidlit publishers, editors, writers, illustrators, educators and all who are involved in helping kids become loves of books and reading meet for conferences, workshops and fun.  As Emily and I chatted via email, she mentioned that she wished I could be part of the conference.  I couldn’t believe my eyes when I opened my email yesterday morning and saw an invitation from her (she is on the Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference Committee) to speak at the conference!  What a great honor…I don’t know if I will be able to attend…but I hope we can work it out.

Is it Perfect Picture Book Friday yet?

You’ve all been so patient…so to reward you, you will be getting TWO FOR THE PRICE OF ONE!

October is National Bully Prevention Month!  I’ll be highlighting some amazing books and other resources for the next four weeks.

 I’ll share my picture book choice in a minute, but first I’m thrilled to tell you about a new anti-bullying app: AWESOME UPSTANDER.  Here’s the link: http://www.awesomeupstander.com


Did you know that 13 MILLION kids…over one-third of all school-age children, are bullied every year?

Awesome Upstander, developed by HealthTeacher:

  • Empowers children to take action
  • Reinforces positive respectful behaviors
  • Teaches children to intervene by getting help from adults
  • Emphasizes group dynamics
  • Shows kids how to gather a group together to counteract the bully’s plan
  • Encourages kids to help when they see bullying

I encourage anyone who is involved with kids to visit the website at http://www.awesomeupstander.com.  There are free downloadable info sheets for parents and teachers that address positive action plans for kids and adults.  You can follow Awesome Upstander on Twitter or on Facebook.  You can also purchase the download for iTunes or Android.

The game identifies the participants to a bullying problem…the bully, the target and the bystanders.  The key to the game (and perhaps an important key to putting an end to bullying in real life) is to turn the bystanders into ‘Awesome Upstanders”…people who get actively involved to help the target or victim and stop the bullying.

This concept of group dynamics brings me to…FINALLY…my Perfect Picture Book Friday pick.



Written and illustrated by Leo Lionni

Publisher: DragonFly Books (1973)

Ages: 4 and up


Bullying, helping others, overcoming fears, self-esteem, creative thinking, cooperation


From the Amazon website: “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.”

Why do I like this book

Let me count the reasons:

1.      Written by one of my favorite author/illustratos, Leo Lioni

2.      Winner of a Caldecott Honor Award

3.      Amazing illustrations of the underwater world

4.      Teaches the power of positive group dynamics

5.      Encourages creative thinking and problem solving

Related Activities:

Watercolor Wash Picture

Photo from artsmarts4kids.blogspot.com

You will need: 1 piece of construction paper, crayons or markers, blue food coloring and a brush.

1.      After reading the story, let your child draw a picture depicting his favorite underwater scene.

2.      Mix a drop or two of blue food coloring (you can use non-toxic blue watercolor paint) with some water.

3.      Your child can brush the watercolor wash over the entire picture…when it dries, it will have an underwater look to it.

4.      Hang it up in a place of honor in the house!

You can also make a fish mobile…with a bunch of little red fish and one little black fish.

More simple under-the-ocean activities from : http://artsmarts4kids.blogspot.com/2008/10/draw-your-own-underwater-scene.html

Great arts and crafts activities from eHow here: http://www.ehow.com/list_6729112_underwater-art-activities.html

Some parent/teacher materials on Scholastic here: http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/book/swimmy


This post is part of a series for parents and teachers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays hosted by Susanna Leonard Hill.  Click on her link and find lots of other picture book suggestions with summaries and activities.   This is an unbelievable resource for any parent, teacher or children’s librarian.

Related posts;


25 thoughts on “PPBF: Swimmy…Group Dynamics with an Awesome Upstander

  1. This book sounds excellent, as does the app — it’s so important to have resources that will help kids deal with bullying. Congratulations on the invitation to speak at the conference! And thanks for the shout-out for my blog.


  2. Thanks Vivian for sharing the fantastic app to help kids deal with bullying. A great way to empower kids! May I link to your page?

    Also enjoyed your review of Swimmy. The cover and content both grabbed my attention. Enjoyed your activity.

    Congratulation on the invite to speak a the Asian Children’s Conference in Singapore. That’s a big deal. I chat with Myra Grace from Gathering Books and she’s involved as well. They are doing great work with creating a children’s literature program. Your angle would be significant.


    • I appreciate your kind words, Pat.  When Emily did her posts about this year’s AFCC, I did see Myra in some of the pictures. 🙂  The app seems to be encouraging kids to stand up for each other…maybe this will catch on and they will do it in real life. 😉  Glad you liked the book…Swimmy is one of my all-time classic favorites.   Pat, you never need to ask if you can link to my page…it is awesome that you want to…of course you can!!!   


  3. Excellent app recommendation, Vivian.

    I love all Leo Lioni books. I love the simplicity of the illustrations and the text. I didn’t realize Swimmy had won him a Caldecot Honour Award.


  4. I LOVE Swimmy! (I know, I already told you that when I replied to your comment on my blog, but it bears repeating! :)) Thanks for adding him to our list! Such a great story about working together to defeat a bully. Congrats on all the love you’ve been getting around the blogosphere – well deserved 🙂


    • I’m actually so glad you came by, Susanna…so I can tell you I received my wonderful SS&S package!  You know, I didn’t realize there was  prize involved when I participated…I thought the prize was being able to participate!  However, I LOVE the journal and notepad…the logo makes it really special!  And I’ll let you know how the cards work out after I look them over and play around with them. 🙂 🙂 Glad you love Swimmy too…does anyone NOT love Swimmy? 🙂  


  5. I just ordered Swimmy from the library, so thanks for the recommendation. Schools seem to do a lot when it comes to bullying but I’m not sure the negative consequences are enough to stop bullies. In my personal experience, many bullies suffer from abuse at home and never get the help they really need. They just get punished for their agressive behavior and their anger only builds up. I wish our system was more supportive and not just suppressive.


    • Yes, Milka…I totally agree!  The bully’s behavior is definitely a cry for help…and we also have to make sure we protect the target.  Helping kids develop a positive self-image early on is one of the best things we can do…and you are right…many kids who become bullies are bullied at home. 😦   


    • I know, Barb…Swimmy is definitely a favorite with many.:) And thank you so much for the ‘like’…it’s my intention to post as many of the PPBF reviews on the Show Me How FB page as possible…as well as helpful posts I see around on picture book writing, publishing and all things self-esteem building for kids. 🙂


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