The Art of Disguise, “Swimmy” and Snow Geese

Cindy Knoke’s photography is nothing short of stunning.  From birds to wildlife to nature, she captures it all in breathtaking detail.  When I saw her recent photo of snow geese flying from a predator, I nearly jumped out of my skin.  Do you see what I see?  A giant fish?

The snow geese are in protective formation, just like the fish in the classic children’s book Swimmy, by Leo Lionni.  If you don’t know the book, stop by the children’s section of your public library and treat yourself to a great story.

This was the very first book I read to my preschool class decades ago.  When my head teacher asked, “Jennie, would you like to be the one read a book to the children every day?”, she put Swimmy in my hands, and my world of teaching was forever changed.

A happy school of little fish lived in a corner of the sea somewhere.  They were all red.  Only one of them was as black as a mussel shell.  He swam faster than his brothers and sisters.  His name was Swimmy.

One bad day a tuna fish, swift, fierce, and very hungry came darting through the waves.  In one gulp he swallowed all the little red fish.  Only Swimmy escaped.

The story continues with Swimmy being lonely and sad, yet he discovers the wonders of the ocean.  He comes across a school of red fish, much like his own.  Swimmy wants to play, but the little red fish are worried that the big fish will eat them.

Leave it to Swimmy to come up with a plan- to swim all together like the biggest fish in the sea.

He taught them to swim together, each in his own place.

And when they had learned to swim like one giant fish, he said, “I’ll be the eye.”

Swimmy and his new family swam in the cool morning water and in the midday sun and chased the big fish away.  This story has everything- adventure, bravery, fear, family, creativity, and persistence.  It will forever be one of my favorites.

Thank you, Cindy Knoke, for capturing Swimmy in your snow geese photo.  Thank you for reminding me of this wonderful book, and of my first days teaching and reading aloud to young children.


About Jennie

I have been teaching preschool for over thirty-five years. This is my passion. I believe that children have a voice, and that is the catalyst to enhance or even change the learning experience. Emergent curriculum opens young minds. It's the little things that happen in the classroom that are most important and exciting. That's what I write about. I was a live guest on the Kelly Clarkson Show. I am highlighted in the seventh edition of Jim Trelease's million-copy bestselling book, "The Read-Aloud Handbook" because of my reading to children. My class has designed quilts that hang as permanent displays at the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia, the Fisher House at the Boston VA Hospital, and the Massachusetts State House in Boston.
This entry was posted in Book Review, children's books, Early Education, Imagination, Inspiration, Leo Lionni, literacy, Nature, picture stories, preschool, reading aloud, reading aloud and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

51 Responses to The Art of Disguise, “Swimmy” and Snow Geese

  1. beth says:

    what a great eye to see that in Cindy’s beautiful work and you are so right, I see the fish and it does remind me of that wonderful book

  2. Norah says:

    What a wonderful way to be reminded of a special story and an even more special, life-changing request.

  3. Opher says:

    Love it! Together we are strong! There is power in a union!

  4. Dan Antion says:

    Wow!, Jennie, thank you for connecting a modern photo, a classic book and a wonderful lesson.

  5. Darlene says:

    What a wonderful picture book and a great memory for you. I too love Cindy’s photos.

  6. Mireya says:

    What a great book! Thanks for sharing.

  7. Cindy’s photos are always spectacular. A great book with a wonderful message. Swimmy definitely is a good role model!

    • Jennie says:

      Yes, her photos are spectacular! Thanks, Bruce. It really is a great book with a timeless message. Swimmy’s resemblance to Cindy’s photo was a wow!

  8. beetleypete says:

    I love how Swimmy became the eye! Great stuff, Jennie.
    Best wishes, Pete.

  9. I also love Cindy’s photos AND enjoyed reading this book with my students, too!

  10. cindy knoke says:

    Oh my gosh! It does look so much like the second to last picture from the book. Amazing. The illustrator obviously was a nature observer. It’s a wonderful book. Thank you sincerely Jennie for your very kind comments. You touched my heart. Stay safe and well my friend.

    • Jennie says:

      The resemblance really is incredible. Yes, it’s a wonderful book. I wish the author/illustrator, Leo Lionni, had known you. He was much older, and he did have a love for nature. He was Eric Carle’s first friend when Eric came to America. I’m so glad you liked my comments, Cindy. You are most welcome. If I touched your heart, that makes my day. 💕

  11. quiall says:

    I can see it! And what a great lesson for the children to learn young: we are stronger together.

    • Jennie says:

      Yes, you can see it! The book is timeless, as is the lesson. Reading Swimmy to children 40 years ago (well, 39) is the same as reading it today. Thank you, Pam.

  12. A great book, Jennie. Thanks for sharing.

  13. I did see the fish in Cindy’s photo. Swimmy sounds like a great story! I haven’t read it before.

    • Jennie says:

      I knew you would see the fish, Deborah! 😀 Your grandkids will love the book, and you will, too. There’s lots to stop and talk about with every page. Next library visit.

  14. Oh How I loved this story…. A first reading for me.. 🙂 And I love Cindy’s photography… And yes… a giant FISH…. 🙂 Thank you for sharing one of her many beautiful posts.. ❤ xx

  15. AmyRose🌹 says:

    Just loved this story, Jennie. And what a picture by Cindy!! Wow! Just wow!! Thank you for sharing …. xo

    • Jennie says:

      I’m so glad you loved the story. Cindy’s nature and the book’s nature were remarkably connected. Yes, wow! I often think of the many ways nature is connected; thank goodness for photographers and artists to transmit that message. You champion that, Amy.

  16. K.L. Hale says:

    Such beautiful and stunning shares~their commonalities in creating nature’s miracles and “human” kindness make for great experiences to see and hear! Thank you, Jennie! ❣️❣️

  17. frenchc1955 says:

    Hi Jennie, this is wonderful!

  18. Carla says:

    You’re right, Cindy takes amazing photos and I’m glad I found her site late last year. What a wonderful memory and great book, Jennie.

  19. Pingback: The Art of Disguise, “Swimmy” and Snow Geese – bhagtirash

  20. Pingback: The Art of Disguise, “Swimmy” and Snow Geese – menthor of mind

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