A Charm of Goldfinches and Other Wild Gatherings: Quirky Collective Nouns of the Animal Kingdom


by: Sewell, Matt
Format: Hardcover

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Product Description "Most groups of wildlife can be described as a flock, herd, or shoal—but where is the fun in ending there?" — from the IntroductionWhether you're an animal lover or a grammar geek, illustrator Matt Sewell has the perfect menagerie of beasts (and beast-related terms) for your reading pleasure. Along with fifty-five gorgeous color illustrations, Sewell presents the unexpected collective nouns used to describe groups of animals on land, in the air, and in the water. Discover the secret behind a "sleuth of bears," keep your eyes open for a "watch of nightingales," and learn something new about a "school of whales." Illustrated in inimitable watercolor, this book makes a great gift for nature and art lovers everywhere. Review " A Charm of Goldfinches radiates magical charm, making it a little treasure." -- Texas Gardener About the Author MATT SEWELL, who has been described as "the Banksy of the bird world," is an avid ornithologist and artist. He is the author of Owls, Our Garden Birds, Our Woodland Birds, Our Songbirds, and Penguins and Other Seabirds and has illustrated for the Guardian and Big Issue among many other publications. His art has been exhibited in London, Manchester, New York, Tokyo, and Paris. Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved. Introduction WE DO LOVE to put labels on things, don’t we? Everything from the slightest variation of tone in a color to the taste of a single flavor in a dish, right through to the tiniest variation in the beats of a song—they all mark a difference and, no matter how small, every variation has a name.  This necessity to name is never more evident than in nature. Most groups of wildlife can be described as a flock, herd, or shoal—but where is the fun in ending there? We as humans are romantic poets at heart, who delight in the idiosyncrasies of the natural world, so a simple “flock” is never going to be enough of a description for one group of birds to the next. Thus we examine and embellish and, over time, these observations make their way into common usage as quirky and colorful collective nouns.  A lot of the phrases used in this book are hundreds of years old— maybe even older. The earliest written record of such menageries is from the fifteenth century in The Book of Saint Albans (or The Boke of Seynt Albans) by Englishman Julyan Berners. It’s a somewhat snooty book about gentlemanly pursuits of the time, mainly hunting and hawking, so a lot of the nouns are explicitly to do with the animals’ characteristics and their cunning, be they predator or prey. Many are humorous and right on the money, but also quite odd, with antiquated turns of phrase. They are certainly a lot more fun to use than the more modern, perhaps clichéd, descriptive terms. In addition to the delight of the outright weirdness, there is a lovely bit of one-upmanship that goes hand in hand with knowing your collective nouns. Although . . . you could always just make up your own versions and nobody would even know. Is that a deceit of lapwings, anybody?


Product Code: 9780399579394
ISBN: 0399579397
Publisher: Ten Speed Press
Publication Date: 2017-09-05
Number of Pages: 144 pages
Languages: english
Edition: Illustrated
Dimension: 5.51 x 0.98 x 7.48 inches
Shipping Weight: 0.75 pounds