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An Ambush of Tigers


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About the Author

Before Betsy R. Rosenthal was a writer, she was a civil rights lawyer. She lives with her husband and three children in Pacific Palisades, California. To learn more about Betsy, visit her at Jago has illustrated more than forty books in the United States, the UK, Europe, South Korea, and South Africa. He lives in Cornwall, UK, with his wife and two children. Find him online at


"Collective noun books have been multiplying this past decade, and this compendium of poetry stands out for its artistry and creativity. Each collective noun couplet whimsically describes a group of animals: 'Would a labor of moles/wear polka-dot ties/when it goes to work/for a business of flies?' The laugh-out-loud illustrations depict the events described, often serving as strong mnemonic devices: a 'rumba of snakes' dances; a 'bouquet of pheasants' sprout from a vase; the ambush of tigers creep across the grass, tails curled high in the air, sights set on the horizon; and a 'bed of oysters' literally rest on a bed, snoozing away. The writing is pithy, with an iambic thrum that make memorization easy. VERDICT: This crash course in juxtaposition and imagination should be celebrated with a peal of bells. An inspiring addition to any poetry collection."--starred, School Library Journal


"While several picture books have tackled collective nouns, Rosenthal and Jago's collaboration stands out for the sheer inventiveness they bring to the subject. Rosenthal frames her rhymes as rhetorical questions that often make surprising (and wonderful) interspecies connections: 'When a murder of crows/ leaves barely a trace, / is a sleuth of bears/ hot on the case?' she writes as Jago pictures fedora-wearing bears snuffling around with magnifying glasses while crows flee, swirling past a luminous full moon. Witty delights abound as a shiver of sharks bundles up in winter knitwear and a bouquet of pheasants peers glumly out of a tall vase." starred, Publishers Weekly


"Collective nouns for animals range from the humdrum and vaguely familiar ('a pack of wolves' and 'a string of ponies') to the colorful, off-the-wall, and hard-to-believe-someone's-not-just-making-these-things-up ('a bouquet of pheasants, ' 'a mischief of rats, ' and 'an intrusion of roaches'). In this inventive picture book, 33 animal-themed collective nouns become springboards for the writer's imagination and the illustrator's creativity. Each double-page spread carries one or two rhyming verses posing questions related to certain collective nouns, such as, 'When a murder of crows / leaves barely a trace, / is a sleuth of bears / hot on the case?' Rosenthal's logical pairings and absurd hypothetical situations are well matched by the dynamic digital illustrations. Jago uses structure, color, and repeated forms well, creating pictures that reward close attention with amusing details. An appended glossary brings all the collective nouns together, defines them, and asks kids to guess why each is well suited to the corresponding animal. A lively picture book with plenty of classroom potential." Booklist


"'Do you ever wonder what animals do/ when they gather in groups of more than two?' queries the author in this clever contemplation of animal-centric collective nouns. Some of the text's rhyming questions are relatively straightforward ('Does a pack of wolves/ load up bags for vacation?// Does a cast of hawks/ get a standing ovation?'), while others are more complex: 'Would a labor of moles/ wear polka-dot ties// when it goes to work/ for a business of flies?' While this is basically a list of collective nouns, the rhythmic text is inventively and captivatingly composed, and the rhyme scheme is consistent and effective. Jago's digital illustrations are equally intriguing in their imaginative visualization of the text. The stylized figures and rich backgrounds in faux-linen texturing have subtle layers of patterning or color embellishing the art. Some amusingly depict the literal meaning of the collective noun, such as the 'stench' of skunks surrounded by a marbleized, translucent green fog as the 'band' (as in 'rock band') of gorillas holds its noses in dismay, or the sash-clad 'troop' of kangaroos selling Girl Scout-style boxes of cookies. A glossary listing each collective noun's more customary definition (e.g., 'labor (moles): to work hard') is also included. Language arts teachers as well as librarians will want to get their paws on this title."--The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books


"Homonyms are used as mnemonic devices to help readers remember 'A Wild Gathering of Collective Nouns.' Cleverness abounds in Rosenthal's latest, from the title to the backmatter, which presents a glossary 'ambush (tigers): an attack from a hiding place' asking children to guess why the words are appropriate for each animal group. The tongue-in-cheek text never falters in its rhythm and rhyme. 'Does a prickle of porcupines / feel any pain? / Can a flush of mallards / get sucked down the drain?' The illustrations are a perfect match for the text's wit. Three heavily bandaged porcupines lie in hospital beds, a sink between two of them. The convoluted pipes under the sink twist and turn across the gutter to discharge both water and mallards in an underground tunnel. A sleuth of bears, complete with magnifying glasses and fedoras, investigate a murder of crows. Three kangaroos belong to a troop, collecting dues and selling cookies while wearing sashes sewn with patches. Other highlights from the 33 featured animals include a shiver of sharks sporting scarves, a bouquet of pheasants arranged in a vase, a dancing rhumba of rattlesnakes and a lounge of lizards in the sun by the pool. Jago's illustrations walk the line between cartoon and realistic, his animals only anthropomorphized if the text suggests it. All are painted on canvas, which supplies a pleasing texture. Collective nouns have never been this much fun...or memorable." starred, Kirkus Reviews


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