Monday, March 30, 2015

Review: An Ambush of Tigers, by Betsy R. Rosenthal and Jago

An Ambush of Tigers: A Wild Gathering of Collective Nouns

Have you ever heard of a prickle of porcupines? Or a tower of giraffes? What about a parcel of penguins? 

Oh, fun! I have seen several picture books on the subject of collective nouns, but they never seem terrible kid-friendly; the rhythm is off, or the text is just plain dull. Rosenthal's offering, by contrast, makes use of the double meaning many collective nouns have, illustrated quite handily by Jago. The entire book is a delightful mnemonic device: once you have seen the tower of giraffes watching the raft of otters (complete with swords and eye patches), I defy you to forget either noun.

Each two-page spread has one or two four-line rhymes, such as

Who cleans up
when a clutter of cats
gets fooled by the pranks
of a mischief of rats?

These are begging to be read aloud, and sure to be greeted by giggles. Some of the vocabulary might be beyond younger readers (what is a parcel? an intrusion?), which makes the handy-dandy glossary in the back just perfect. 

The definitions are accessible (intrusion means forcing your way into a place or situation where you are not wanted or invited), and if I was teaching a class of, say, second graders, I would probably start by reading the story out loud and having fun with it. Then I would ask if there were any words they weren't sure about, and write them on a chart. A second reading, asking students to motion whenever there was another word they weren't sure of. Bingo, there's our vocabulary list for the week! After having fun with those words for a while, we would look at other collective nouns - what are some used for people? - and maybe end with our own book, each person in the class illustrating a different term literally (what would a babble of barbers look like?)

This would work for a single home schooled child, or for a whole class. Remind me of this one when I win the lottery and can stay home all day! Of course, there's that annoying detail of having to buy a ticket first...

No comments:

Post a Comment