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Friday, August 22, 2008

Poetry Friday--Collective Nouns

Isn't it funny how one thing leads to another and that where you end up is miles away from where you started! Case in point: today at the library the air conditioning is working so "well" that it seems to be a constant 40 degrees in here. Sort of like being in a cave. I mentioned the cave aspect and I believe it was Carolyn who mentioned all the bats flying near her home recently (obviously taking advantage of this year's bumper crop of mosquitoes). The question was asked, "what do you call a group of bats?" So, I looked it up online and found several terms, "a bunch of bats" (not a technical term), "a colony," and "a cloud." We decided we liked "a cloud" because of its evocative nature.

So that got us to thinking about a book we remembered on what groups of animals are called. I found it on the shelf, it's Patricia Hooper's A Bundle of Beasts [J 811 HOO]. And, it's a book of poetry. Bats aren't represented, but these mammals are: hogs (a drift), goats (a trip), apes (a shrewdness), cats (a clowder), and a bunch more! Birds, fish, and amphibians, too, are covered. This is from the delightful entry, "An Army of Frogs":
Don't ever jog
Alone in a bog
Unless you're prepared
To meet up with a frog
In his army-green suit,
For he's ready to shoot
With his long, sticky tongue
If you fail to salute!

This book is worth a look. The poems are all fun, and the pen and ink illustrations are a perfect accompaniment.

By the way, groups of things are referred to as "collective nouns." Picture book writer/illustrator, Ruth Heller, has a bouncy, rhythmic, colorful, exploration of collective nouns in A Cache of Jewels and Other Collective Nouns [JP HEL]--look for it next time you visit, and don't forget to wear a sweater!

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