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INFORMATION BOOKS | Collective Nouns :: A Zeal of Zebras + Brian Wildsmith’s Animal Gallery

16 Dec

Who knew?


I came across these two extraordinary — and strikingly dissimilar in style — books today and they prompted me to do some more research about collective nouns.

Who knew that the English language had so many strange names for collectivities of animals?

Woop Studios — Miraphora Mina, Eduardo Lima (photo, below), Harriet Logan, and Mark Faulkner — have a contemporary graphic style that is extremely appealing. The words are engaging, too!

The cover of A Zeal of Zebras sets the tone for what’s inside. The Studio’s artwork captures the essential “animalness” of each of the collective nouns they cover in this gorgeous book.

I’d recommend A Zeal of Zebras as a gift for your graphically-minded friends — they’ll appreciate its bold style.

Woop is, I think, bent on becoming a repository for all of these, as they put it, “eccentricities of the English language.” Be sure to check out WOOP WORDS (link below) for more collective nouns.

From their website:

We believe that making a comprehensive A-Z list of collective nouns freely accessible will help those who share our fascination learn new terms and enjoy and share familiar. We hope that irrespective of whether you are browsing for fun or researching for homework that you will find these words, images and facts entertaining and informative. If you enjoy exploring this list you may well find our forthcoming book A Zeal of Zebras worth a look.

Some of the collective terms listed have real pedigree and lineage and can be found in JThe Oxford English Dictionary, ames Lipton’s 1968 An Exaltation of Larks or even The Book of St. Albans published in 1486. Some are of a more dubious and newer vintage than the original terms of venery. We make no apologies for being eclectic and hope that you will have fun with the words and enjoy our graphic interpretation of some of them.

Brian Wildsmith is, to me, the Eric Carle of England (though he resides in France). He liberated children’s picture books in the mid-sixties with his emphasis on minimal text and brilliantly conceived (art directed, really) page spreads with lots and lots of white space to let his images breathe on the page.

Wildsmith has never achieved Carle’s level of success because he refuses to repeat himself. I think his artistry is unique and superlative and underappreciated.

Trust the Japanese to know a quality artist when they come across one: the Brian Wildsmith Museum is located in Izu-kogen, south of Tokyo (link below).

Here are a few words about Wildsmith pulled from The Guardian:

Korky Paul on Brian Wildsmith

Brian Wildsmith’s work came out in the 1960s and he changed picture books. It was revolutionary stuff. One of his best books is The Hare and the Tortoise. He uses his own colours. He plays with scale, and his animals have characters: roosters strut their stuff, chickens are always eating, cats always sleeping.

What I like about his work is his wonderful use of white space; there are raggedy edges and extraordinary detail. He uses a mixture of media: watercolour, wash, then he works on top with chalk or pen. There is a lot of movement there.

My work is more spiky, but I love trying to create a fantasy world and to stylise it. Children’s books allow artists of all kinds to explore their own vision, how they see the world, and that’s what Wildsmith achieves so well. Exposing children to that teaches them that there are all sorts of ways of viewing the world.

Korky Paul has created illustrations for books including the Winnie the Witch series.




Click on the links below to find out more about these brilliant artists and their fact books for children that illustrate the strange collective nouns we use to name animals.

These two books are full of strange and fascinating collective nouns accompanied by rich illustrations drawn with flair and élan.

Though utterly different in style, both are highly recommended for kids of all ages.

Brian Wildsmith Museum of Art


POEM | The Moon Game

16 Dec

Be sure to check the  Moon Phases Calendar for the moon phase of your storytime!


I’m the moon and I play a game.

I don’t always look the same.


Sometimes I’m round,

A silver sphere.


Sometimes just half of me

Seems to be here.


Sometimes I’m a crescent,

Shaped like a smile.


Sometimes I surprise you

And hide for awhile.


Look up in the sky

For my friendly light.


What shape will I have

When you see me tonight?

– Author unknown

PDF > POEM + FLASHCARDS: “The Moon Game” + The Phases of the Moon

Deutsch: Der Vollmond, fotografiert in Hamois ...

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