Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

A Zeal of Zebras: An Alphabet of Collective Nouns

A Zeal of Zebras: An Alphabet of Collective Nouns

Woop Studios
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 6 and up
Chronicle Books, 2011   ISBN: 978-1452104928

People of all ages have fun trying to remember collective nouns for groups of animals. Most of us know that a group of sheep is called a flock and that cows come in herds. Some of us know about a murder of crows, and a pack of dogs. This book explores some of the lesser known collective nouns, presenting the words using an alphabet book format.

   For each letter of the alphabet we are given a collective noun for a group of animals. This is accompanied by a section of text where readers can find out a little about the animal. On the facing page there is a piece of artwork showing the letter of the alphabet, a picture (or pictures) of the animal featured on the page, and the collective noun.

   For example, on the page for the letter E we encounter “An Embarrassment of Pandas.” The artwork on the facing page shows a group of pandas eating bamboo. One of the more adventurous bears is even climbing up the thick bamboo branches. The text tells us that “Seeing a group of pandas together would indeed be an embarrassment of riches.” This is because pandas are solitary, shy, and rare.

  On the H page we learn that a group of bees is called a hum. How very appropriate. The text tells us that these insects are social and cooperative and that honeybee hives may have as many as 40,000 bees in them. The hum from all those wings must make quite a noise.

   This is the kind of book that both children and adults will enjoy looking through. It is not only informative and full of wonderful collective noun words – for example a leap, a movement, and an ostentation – but it also gives readers a singular visual experience because the art is to unique and beautiful.