Title: A Zeal of Zebras: An Alphabet of Collective Nouns

Author: Woop Studios

Category: Picture Book – Alphabet

Published: August 10, 2011 by Chronicle Books

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Add: Goodreads

Purchase: Amazon | IndieBound | Book Depository

An embarrassment of pandas, a galaxy of starfish, a shiver of sharks…these are all collective nouns used to describe their groups. Woop Studios, acclaimed for their work on the Harry Potter movies, has illustrated these quirky phrases, creating a series of extraordinarily beautiful art that has been collected here for the first time. The colorful introduction to animals and the alphabet is accessible for young children, while the gorgeous, whimsical art and clever wordplay make it perfect for design-savvy parents and inspired gift givers. Longer than the standard picture book, with high design and production values, this is a volume readers will want on their coffee tables in addition to their child’s bookshelf.

I’ve mentioned before that I love words, including collective nouns, like an unkindness of ravens, which is actually included in A Zeal of Zebras from Woop Studios. I originally found this book while I was looking for a Z in April, but had to put in on hold.

I wish I gave multiple ratings. I would give A Zeal of Zebras a five for the illustrations, which is not a surprise really, given that it’s from Woop Studios. Each full-page illustration is vibrantly colored and fun, an image of the animals with the phrase, for example “A Watch of Nightingales.” You can check out some examples on their website HERE.

I’d also give it a five for the collective nouns – an aurora of polar bears, a shiver of sharks, a kaleidoscope of butterflies. I just love how they sound and how well some fit the creatures they’re paired with. There were several that I actually thought they must have made up, but when I looked them up they actually seemed to be right, if unlikely.

The piece that brings down the rating is the tidbits of info on each of the animals. The facts just seemed kind of random sometimes. Most make sense, discussing when the particular animal tends to congregate, like if they always live in groups or gather when food is plentiful, but others like the bit about the skylark’s beautiful song just seemed a little random.

Overall, it is a lovely book. It’s a unique A to Z collection, one definitely aimed at kids whose parents love words, which is probably why I had to check it out even though I don’t have any kids the right age.


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