Everyone has heard the phrase "a school of fish." But what about "a rumba of rattlesnakes," "an army of ants," or "a crash of rhinos"? Derived from both oral and written traditions, collective nouns go back centuries. These terms not only charm us with their sound, but they provide a bit of insight into animal behavior. Readers can find these and other terms - from alley cats to zebras - in fourteen thought-provoking poems by Marjorie Maddox. She and artist Philip Huber create a wonderful combination of rich wordplay and captivating art that tickles the imagination.


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From School Library Journal

Grade 2–5—Starting with evocative collective animal nouns, such as a "tower of giraffes" and a "charm of butterflies," Maddox offers 14 brief poems. Teachers will appreciate the use of alliterative language, imagery, and lighter-than-air whimsy. In "A Rumba of Rattlesnakes," for example, the poet conjures up an image of the animals' dangerous, hypnotic dance with crisp rhythm and wordplay: "They rattle maracas and rat-tat on drums,/blow on tin trumpets, uncurl their tongues." Huber's appealing scratchboard with colored-ink illustrations add texture, color, and fanciful detail. An author's note gives some of the history behind the development and use of collective nouns. An enticing treat for would-be wordsmiths and animal lovers, this short collection will also make an excellent read-aloud.—Marilyn Taniguchi, Beverly Hills Public Library, CA
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Library Media Connection Review

If you love to hear words dance, or can envision language in motion, you must pick up this book and read it aloud to someone who adores listening to fun and imaginative poetry. You will see rattlesnakes rumba, from a safe distance of course. Alley cats of all sizes will pounce. An army of ants will feast at your picnic, almost. The language is fun and fanciful and will keep your tongue hopping through the pages. Not only does this book introduce us to some unusual collective nouns such as a murder of crows, a crash of rhinos, and a charm of butterflies, but the poems will also waltz into your heart. The words come alive by the rhythm they keep as they are read. Anyone who remembers the sixties will reminisce when he or she reads about the band of coyotes. So come learn about collective nouns. Each poem is to be enjoyed and is found to be irresistible; let yourself go as you enjoy each expression. The poetry is animated with rich language and is full of life. --Library Media Connection

WPSU's BookMark

WAMC Academic Moment Broadcast on Collective Nouns

Teaching Ideas from TeachingBooks.net


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Poetry for Children blog (A Crossing of Zebras)

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