Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

An Ambush of Tigers: A Wild Gathering of Collective Nouns

An Ambush of Tigers: A Wild Gathering of Collective Nouns

Betsy R. Rosenthal
Illustrator:  Jago 
Poetry Picture Book
For ages 4 to 6
Millbrook Press, 2015   ISBN: 978-1467714648

A group of humans does not really have a special name, but other animals do have collective nouns, which many of us use regularly. We know that sheep form flocks, and that a group of cows is a herd. The interesting thing is that there are so many other collective nouns for animals out there, many of which are deliciously wonderful and interesting.

For example, a group of giraffes is called a tower, a gathering of otters is a raft, and a crowd of rats is called a mischief. When you consider that giraffes are very tall, that otters spend much of their life swimming and floating about in water, and that rats are known for being mischievous, these collective nouns seem very appropriate.

It would be easy to describe these words in a clinical, dictionary sort of way, but in this clever picture book the author uses nonsense poems to introduce us to a delightful collection of collective nouns. For each set of verse she asks a question or two that will make young readers laugh. For example, she wonders if “When a murder of crows, / leaves barely a trace, /is a sleuth of bears hot on the case?” And what about a “parcel of penguins?” Can they be “sent in the mail?” If a “band of gorillas” set up to play a gig, will a “stench of skunks / scare them away?”

Children will love the clever rhyming questions that appear on the pages of this beautifully illustrated book. At the back of the book they will find a glossary that explores alternate meanings for the collective nouns that appear in the book, meanings that will help them see that some of the collective nouns perfectly match the animal species that they are associated with.