For kids, Swimmy — a smart black fish among red siblings — is a familiar eponymous character from a Leo Lionni picture book that is widely read at elementary schools in Japan. Lionni (1910-99) wrote his first children’s book, “Little Blue and Little Yellow,” at the age of 49. Since then, his stories have portrayed young characters on journeys of learning and self-discovery — all illustrated in bright watercolors, oils or collages.
Nearly 200 of Lionni’s works — including paintings, sculptures and pieces he designed as an art director — are featured in this exhibition, with one of the highlights being five original “Swimmy” illustrations on loan from the Slovak National Museum. (Yukari Tanaka)