Friday, November 13, 2015

A Myriad, a Plethora, An Abundance of (Okay, Just Three) ... Books About Collective Nouns

From A Zeal of Zebras
I found A Zeal of Zebras: An Alphabet of Collective Nouns at a museum gift shop and was drawn in by the visually stunning cover.  As a word-lover, the topic of collective nouns also piqued my interest, and I was sold.  Although I wonder if these terms are ever actually used, their vivid imagery is irresistible.  I even picked up an adult version of this book and found gems such as "a squint of proofreaders!"   A Zeal of Zebras presents animals in alphabetical order and is as informative as it is gorgeous.

And you know how, once you notice something, it seems to be everywhere?  All of a sudden, I noticed books about collective nouns everywhere.

A flock of sheep from A Tower of Giraffes
A Tower of Giraffes: Animals in Groups takes the same tack, providing information about each animal and its community.  But while I loved the art (I dare you to not to touch the woolly-seeming sheep!), the animals seem arranged in no particular order and the book comes to an abrupt end.

An Ambush of Tigers: A Wild Gathering of Collective Nouns takes a completely different approach.  My wordplay-loving 7-year-old loved this rhyming book, which asks questions like "Would a labor of moles wear polka-dot ties when it goes to work for a business of flies?" and "When a murder of crows leaves barely a trace, is a sleuth of bears hot on the case?"  In a nice touch, it has a glossary which gives the alternate (more common) meaning for each word used to name an animal group.  Fun and funny, this is a more accessible introduction to collective nouns than a mere list.  But it lacks information about the animals and animal communities themselves, which is why these books work so well together.

A sleuth of bears
Interestingly enough, the books do not always use the same word for a group of animals.  An Ambush of Tigers and A Tower of Giraffes both feature flamingos  - but the former calls a group of them a bland "stand," whereas the latter identifies such a group as a much more vivid "flamboyance."  A romp of otters or a raft of them?

What is your favorite collective noun?

No comments:

Post a Comment