CM . . .
. Volume XVI Number 31. . . .April 16, 2010
A Paddling of Ducks: Animals in Groups from A to Z.
Marjorie Blain Parker. Illustrated by Joseph Kelly.
Toronto, ON: Kids Can Press, 2010.
32 pp., hardcover, $18.95.
Animals-Nomenclature (Popular)-Juvenile literature.
Preschool-grade 2 / Ages 4-7.
Review by Valerie Nielsen.
Quick now……what do you call a group of crocodiles? Or foxes? Or moles? Or bears? It's all in Marjorie Blain Parker's new picture book, A Paddling of Ducks, which is gorgeously illustrated in oil and acrylic by Joseph Kelly, an American artist best known for his work in the Martin Bridge series of early chapter books for 7 to 10-year-olds.
Marjorie Blain Parker, born in Canada but now living in the U.S., has written several books for children. Her best known work is Jasper's Day, published in 2002, which was the winner of the Mr. Christie Book silver seal award.
In A Paddling of Ducks, Parker has come up with marvellous selection of collective nouns for this unique alphabet book. Her choice of animals will surprise and delight readers of all ages. Who knew that a group of bears was called a "sloth"? Or that a bunch of crocodiles was a "bask"? Kelly adds to the fun with his bold, bright double spread paintings of crocs relaxing on the beach with sunglasses and cold drinks.
Throughout the book, the artist's illustrations are richly-detailed, full of visual jokes and sly humour. He comes up with a skate-boarding "gang" of elk spied upon by a sneering "skulk" of foxes. Later, he depicts Parker's "colony" of iguanas as an artistic community and a "leap" of leopards are bouncing around on exercise balls. Kelly's "knot" of toads is busy knitting while a "troop" of Uakaris (those impossibly ugly monkeys) cavort with multi-coloured popsicles. Tiny moles in their hard hats make up the "Mm" page in a "labor" of moles. All in all, Parker's choice of unusual animals and their collective nouns, coupled with Kelly's bold surrealistic style, have combined to produce an alphabet book which is sure to be great fun (and educational) for the young reader.
A Paddling of Ducks is also likely to come in handy for a mini lesson on collective nouns in an ELA class of older students. A discussion among upper grade elementary student might lead them to ponder the reason the author left out the collective noun for a gathering of crows.
A retired teacher-librarian, Valerie Nielsen lives in Winnipeg, MB.
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