CM . . .
. Volume XIII Number 4 . . . . October 13, 2006
Once upon a time in my professional career, I was an Associate Dean. At a meeting of Deans and Associate Deans, a colleague, who was a bit of a wag, asked, ‘What do you call a group of Deans?” When he saw that I had no response, he offered, “A Dunce of Deans.” The names of 11 groups of animals (excluding Deans) is the fun stuff of Swanson’s A Crash of Rhinos, A Party of Jays. If you’ve ever been at a loss for the collective name of a group of bears, caterpillars, clams, ducks, elk, giraffes, jays, leopards, lions, pheasants or rhinos, then Swanson can help. Her brief text does two things. Firstly, as demonstrated in the above excerpt, she explains the “logic” behind each of the collective nouns, and, secondly, for each of the 11 entries, she supplies a “Neat to know” section which offers three tidbits of interesting information. For example, about giraffes, readers will learn that:
Each entry takes up a pair of facing pages with one being used for the two parts of the text as well as a colour photo of the topic creature. The other full page consists of Spencer’s literal and comical watercolor rendering of the collective noun.
Obviously, A Crash of Rhinos, A Party of Jays is a terrific vocabulary builder for early years students, but this book’s use should not be limited to just younger pupils. With higher grades, the book’s entries could be used as exemplars, and then students could be invited to invent their own collective nouns for other groups. For example, what could one call a group of book reviewers? A Critique, perhaps?
To encourage children to extend their knowledge of collective nouns associated with animals, Annick is running a contest, with the prize being “a library of 15 favorite Annick Press books!” Contest details are available at www.annickpress.com/catalog/crashofrhinos.html.
Dave Jenkinson teaches courses in children’s and adolescent literature in the Faculty of Education, the University of Manitoba.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.