Monday, March 7, 2016
A Tower of Giraffes, wirtten and illustrated by Anna Wright. Charlesbridge, Random House. 2015. $19.95 ages 3 and up
Most koalas live on their own, so there isn't an official word for them in a group. Since they don't live too far from other koalas in the bush, their overlapping territories are called colonies or populations."
In her foreword, Anna Wright points out:
"Animals have varied social lives, family systems, and living situations. Some animals live together in large groups of thousands. Others prefer to be alone but like to know that neighbors are nearby ... "
This would have been a glorious book had Ms. Wright only named the animal, their collective noun, and then created her accompanying illustrations 'done in ink and watercolor, then collaged with fabric and feathers.' She went that one step further: to educate, inform and astound.
She begins with a gaggle of geese, letting us know that, in fact, they have two collective names. One is for when they are on the ground, the other for when they fly. Following that, she moves on to another noun. The whole book reads like a conversation, sharing short paragraphs that provide pertinent facts. Some are witty, all are informative without being overwhelming to the child reader.
The heart of the book is the dazzling artwork. She captures the personalities of the animals with such warmth. Some are watercolors washing over the loose pen and ink lines, others use an unusual array of fabric and feathers to give life and charm. The pigs are perfection, the flamingos 'flamboyant', and the camels whimsical.
Many of the animals will be familiar to readers. Their collective names are often totally appropriate to their natures. This is a terrific introduction for young readers into the world of collective nouns. It is sure to send some on a concentrated search to learn more. Perhaps it will also spark the creative juices for the artists in the audience!