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A Charm Of Goldfinches And Other Collective Nouns

A Charm Of Goldfinches And Other Collective Nouns, September 2017
by Matt Sewell

Ten Speed Press
144 pages
ISBN: 0399579397
EAN: 9780399579394
Kindle: B01N7GW8LR
Hardcover / e-Book
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"More cute birds and critters than you can shake a stick at"

Fresh Fiction Review

A Charm Of Goldfinches And Other Collective Nouns
Matt Sewell

Reviewed by Clare O'Beara
Posted July 17, 2017

Non-Fiction Pet-Lover | Non-Fiction

Having read an enchanting book on owls of the world, by artist Matt Sewell, I was delighted to find another in the same vein. A CHARM OF GOLDFINCHES AND OTHER COLLECTIVE NOUNS looks at a host of natural nouns and the creatures they describe. We all know a pride of lions, or skein of geese, but for certain you won't know some of these labels.

First we look at land animals: who knew it's a sleuth of bears? Matt traces this back to the sleuth hound, a term for a hound used to hunt out the animals from English forest in the Middle Ages. And it's a mob of emus. Australians also say a mob of cattle, so maybe it's a generic term. An array of hedgehogs; maybe because all those spines look like an array of spears. And a memory of elephants, part of the fable that elephants never forget. All these mentions are accompanied by cheerful art. Except the plague of rats.

Matt tells us that he lives in Shropshire in England, and he was delighted to hear that a richness of pine martens has been spotted there, for the first time in many years. How nice to be able to drop such a rare word into general conversation.

Next we take to the air, with a convocation of stern eagles contrasted with the charm of tiny goldfinches feeding on tinier seed heads. Five different kingfishers are drawn and named, but you would be lucky to see a crown of kingfishers of all the same type. A deceit of lapwings arises from the bird's looping flight to fool hawks and pretended limping on the ground to draw hunters from its nest. The parliament of owls may have originated with large numbers sitting in a tree, as in the photo from Serbia which Matt used as inspiration. And maybe the truest noun is the quarrel of sparrows, as these little birds are always very noisy.

Water brings us to a school of whales, a shiver of sharks, a bask of crocodiles, which do actually look scary. And at the end is a little collection of animals in this book of collections. A CHARM OF GOLDFINCHES AND OTHER COLLECTIVE NOUNS is a cute book by Matt Sewell which would suit nature lovers, fans of simple, bold art, or those in need of an enjoyable gift. If you have read 'Owls: Our Most Enchanting Bird' you'll know what to expect.

Learn more about A Charm Of Goldfinches And Other Collective Nouns


A charm of goldfinches, an ascension of larks, a bask of crocodiles, a cloud of bats, a wake of vultures--all of these colorful collective nouns and more are showcased in this enchanting illustrated book by beloved artist Matt Sewell.

Accompanying each illustration is a playful description of each group of animals' personality, quirks, and habits. Sewell's uniquely witty take on the subject and delicately vivid illustrations make for a lovely new addition to his series of collectible books including Owls and Penguins and Other Seabirds. Playing on the theme of collective nouns for animals and illustrated with Matt Sewell's inimitable watercolors, this book makes a great gift for nature and art lovers everywhere.

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