A Prickle of Porcupines. Think You Know Animal Groups? – Herds of Birds Oh How Absurd! by S.J. Bushue and Deb McQueen.

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Click here to buy Herds of Birds Oh How Absurd!

This is a bilingual picture book, English and Spanish. It begins:

“Cattle roam in herds, but not a covey of quail.

El Ganado Vaga en rebaῆos, pero no un grupo de perdices.

Cranes stroll in herds, but not a tower of giraffes.”

Readers learn that deer, dinosaurs, elephants, hippos, horses, kangaroos, llamas, moose, pigs, reindeer, seals, walruses, yaks, and zebras all travel in herds. But porcupines, flamingos, hamsters, alligators, butterflies, lions, toads, ferrets, geese, nightingales, dolphins, penguins, hummingbirds, and monkeys are identified by a different collective noun. I’ve always loved a flamboyance of flamingos and a prickle of porcupines but a charm of hummingbirds is a new term for me.

The vocabulary is quite rich even for children with English as a first language. However, adults reading to children whose first language is Spanish could concentrate on the names of the animals. Adults will probably not tire of this book very quickly as it would be an enjoyable challenge to learn all the collective nouns.

If you go to the website http://www.thelittlefig.com you will find a song to accompany the book. It’s an excellent sticky jingle, however, you must reinforce that the child not stop after the words, “Do we say herds of birds?” but continues on to sing, “No, how absurd. Birds don’t fly in a herd but a flock.” There are downloadable coloring sheets that match some of the pictures in the book. There is also a video of the book being read in Spanish.

The illustrations are created with solid chunks of color and black outlines. On some of the pages animals are behaving like animals, but on some the illustrator has chosen to emphasize the collective noun. For example the business of ferrets is taking notes on the stock market, working on the computer, and checking a watch while carrying a briefcase. Hamsters (horde) are hoarding buttons and spools of thread. The flamingo (flamboyance) is carrying a fancy fan and a feathered headpiece. The alligators (congregation) are singing hymns. In other pictures the animals are playing soccer, being flagged in for a landing, carrying an umbrella and wearing sunglasses, or evaluating each other’s jumps. This humorous illustration leads well into discussion.

Even without the second language, this is a valuable book to share with children from 3 to 10 years old.

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A copy of this book was generously donated by the author to my Little Free Library.

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

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