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NORWALK, Conn. -- Stew Leonard Jr., president and c.e.o. of Stew Leonard's, based here, and his wife, Karen, have produced their second children's book about water safety, "Swimming Lessons with Stewie the Duck," to be released May 1 by Kimberly Press. The Leonards have been devoted to the cause of water safety since the 1989 drowning death of their 21-month-old son, Stew Leonard III, while the family was vacationing in the Caribbean.
Aimed at children ages 2 through 7, the hardcover book discusses the skills children have to learn, and the fears they must confront, when learning to swim. "Swimming Lessons with Stewie the Duck" has illustrations by Vicky Lowe and includes a CD featuring the song "It's Fun at Swimming School," set to the tune of "Row, Row, Row Your Boat."
The Leonards' first book, "Stewie the Duck Learns to Swim," garnered a National Water Safety Youth Education Award from the National Water Safety Congress, and is used in water safety courses across the United States. More than 30,000 copies of the book have been sold, with all proceeds from both books going to water safety programs and swimming lesson scholarships.
"We created the Stewie the Duck character and books because we realized there is very little information on water safety specifically written for children," noted Stew Leonard Jr. in a statement. "In our new book we address the most important steps for beginning swimmers to learn, and how Stewie and his friends overcome their fears in learning how to swim -- such as putting their heads in the water."
A year after the Leonards' son died, they founded the Stew Leonard III Water Safety Foundation to help combat child drownings, which is the top cause of death for children below the age of 5. The foundation provides swim scholarships and water safety equipment to local YMCAs.
In recognition of their efforts, the Leonards have received a USA Swimming Safety Commendation from USA Swimming, a regional award from the National Water Safety Congress; and the Heroes Award from the Fairfield County Red Cross chapter.
Besides being offered at Stew Leonard's stores in Norwalk and Danbury, Conn., and Yonkers, N.Y., "Swimming Lessons with Stewie the Duck," will be available at Barnes & Noble stores, and the Web sites Stewietheduck.com and Amazon.com. The price will be $9.95.