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A Charm of Goldfinches and Other Collective Nouns

4.25  ·  Rating details ·  134 Ratings  ·  52 Reviews
A charm of goldfinches, an ascension of larks, a school of dolphins, a cloud of bats, a murder of crows. All these and more are portrayed in this enchanting new book by much loved artist Matt Sewell, playing on the theme of collective nouns for animals.

Illustrated with Matt’s inimitable watercolours, and imbued with a love of his subjects that will resonate with people eve
Kindle Edition, 144 pages
Published October 6th 2016 by Ebury Digital
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Sep 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found out about this book thanks to a friend here and since I'm a linguist and love everything quirky about languages (palindromes, puns, etc), I also enjoy all the collective nouns of the animal kingdom. One of my personal favourites has always been "a murder of crows" though thanks to this book I now know that people have been very inventive with the names of other animal groupings as well. So of course I needed to have this book.

It is divided into the chapters "land", "air", and "water".

Paquita Maria Sanchez
As I joyfully make my way through this beautiful, fun lil' book, I've decided to jot down some mnemonic devices to help me retain these collective nouns. Will they help you? Probably no. In the event that they do, you should know that we are friendship soulmates and I will love you forever across all the oceans of time, probably.

A Sleuth of Bears
Sleuth→Bluth→I Blue Myself→Bluebeard = bears.

A Band of Coyotes
Band→The Band→The Basement Tapes→Bob Dylan→Ballad of Hollis Brown→A cold coyote calls = c
Humans have always had a natural desire to collect and group things together. It works well for domesticated animals, where people are used to talking about a herd of cows, or a flock of sheep. But how do you collate wild animals and birds? Should they all be flocks and herds? Thankfully human imagination has gone to work on this and come up with a whole host of rich and interesting names for all species of animals.

Matt Sewell has collected together all the collective nouns for all manner of an
May 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a lovely book, full of amazing watercolours of land/air/water animals, I recommend the paper version over the electronic version as you'll see the full affect of the paintings which are spread over two pages.

With each collection of animals mentioned you get some info on how the collective name was first created, you get info on the animals themselves, an idea of how many species and a nice big helping of Matt Sewell's humour. Here is a sample of him describing Buntings:

"There are many di
Breakaway Reviewers
Oct 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A gem of a book to help at quiz nights!

I have always enjoyed finding out what a group of a specific animal is called and thanks to Matt Sewell, I am now able to appear hugely knowledgeable when discussing bears by saying “Oh yes, in fact a group of bears is really a sleuth of bears” or “look at that caravan of camels” or my best while staring at a river in Africa “Ah, there is a crash of hippos”

Matt Sewell has divided the book into three parts; land, air and water. Who can resist looking into t
Mar 27, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: animals, art, netgalley
I didn't realize until I got this book from NetGalley that I'd read and reviewed another one of Matt Sewell's books, Owls: Our Most Enchanting Bird. This follows a similar format to that one, and to a bunch of other Sewell books. This one in particular takes a look at the fun and amusing names there are for groups of different kinds of animals, for example, a murder of crows or a parliament of owls, and it also has some descriptions and thoughts about the names and animals.

I felt pretty much th
Clare O'Beara
Apr 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Having read the recent book on Owls by the author, I was interested to see this one about collective nouns for groups of animals. Each page illustrates the group with spare, colourful, cheeky art.

You probably know many of them, but just as probably don't know the rest. Rats, crocodiles and elephants fill the pages as well as the more usual birds in their parliaments, exaltations, murders etc.
Good for young readers or adults.

I downloaded a copy from Net Galley. This is an unbiased review.
Sep 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This was a fun, informative and quick read as well as one that surprised me. The reason for the surprise was that although I knew it was about collective nouns I didn't know that the author would be putting more thought into teaching and sharing with his reader than in just giving out the word.

Keeping with his British humor the book is a hodgepodge of comedic thoughts, some dark bits best read before allowing a younger child to get a hold of it, personal observations, animal trivia and awarene
Jan 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a charming (pun intended) little book! I was wandering the aisles of Barnes and Noble, a gift card burning a hole in my pocket, when I spotted this book and my inner linguistic nerd got excited. Overwhelmed by book choices, I didn’t buy anything that day, but I couldn’t get this mini little coffee table book out of my head. So I went back and bought it! The author/illustrator provides pretty illustrations and quirky little blurbs with each collective noun, some informative, some silly, some ...more
Sarah Sammis
Cute and short. Very UK centric for obvious reasons. Would like to see him tackle different regions of the world.
Apr 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I don’t often read non-fiction but this book is a delight! Detailing the collective nouns of creatures on land, in the air and in the sea, along with water color illustrations, it’s endlessly fun to look at. So much fun that I actually read every word and long to pass it along to all my friends! I think you’ll be as entranced as I am!!
Alia'a Siren
Dec 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I don't think I've read a book as charming as this. Sewell's write ups of each collective noun were witty and filled with cute "did you know?" bits, its so memorable. My favourite is "A Harem of Seals".
Oct 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The best book! Irreverently descriptive and delightful, with beautiful watercolor illustrations. Completely enjoyable, would make a great gift for an animal and language lover. But, as the author/illustrator says in his description of a Shiver of Sharks, "Don't be misled by my bad habit of making everything look cute..."
Bonnye Reed
Jul 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
GNab I received a free electronic copy of this collection from Netgalley, Matt Sewell, and Ebury Digital in exchange for an honest review. Thank you for sharing your hard work with me.

This is a delightful book for folks of any age. My husband and I were discussing the fact that at one time in our lives we knew many of these collective nouns but have over the years lost that connection. Many of these however were new to us both. I love the fact that only a collection of male peacocks are an osten
Nostalgia Reader
First off, these are very lovely illustrations. All the animals are quite cute, especially the birbs—I’ll have to look into some of his other books on birbs because !!BIRBS!

The informative blurbs, however, were just not that informative. I did enjoy Sewell’s organic style and how he incorporated personal vignettes and stories about the animal in question, while also providing some basic information about the animal and their group. But it was just too hit and miss in terms of how informative it
Becky B
Matt Sewell provides a full page of watercolor illustrations of groups of animals and 1-2 paragraphs of information on the critters, where that particular group name came from, or just his general thoughts on these animals and their group names.

Collective nouns for groups of animals are not set for each animal like their scientific names. There are many possible options for each critter, and it is even possible for you to introduce a new collective noun if you can just get enough people using it
Review written: August 26, 2017
Star Rating: ★★★☆☆
Heat Rating: N/A

An Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) of this book was received free via Netgalley for an honest review.

This is a charming book, goldfinches or otherwise. And yes, it is quirky too. I originally chose it thinking it might be something I would want to get for my nieces: informative but fun and with cute artwork.

But this is not a book for children. It's really a book for adults dressed up in a cute children's package. Is it informative?
Nov 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A Charm of Goldfinches and Other Wild Gatherings is filled with entertaining depictions of animals and lovely watercolors. I found myself chuckling at the morsels of humor the author incorporates in each rendering but also learned a few things I did not know. Anyone who loves nature or is an artist at heart will enjoy this collection of illustrations. It is truly one of the most charming little books I have had the pleasure of reading. It would make a wonderful gift to share with others and more ...more
Allison Banmally
Dec 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: writers, readers, and fans of art!
This book was very cute and charming. The watercolor illustrations are engaging and sweet. There's more than just bird groups in the book as well-- seals, cobras and foxes are just some of the other animals. Each of the group names are given a short etymological backstory next to an illustration. Overall, this is a delightful coffee table book. Between a charm of goldfinches or a ostentation of peacocks, you'll be sure to learn a new collective noun. It became a guessing game between my family a ...more
Oct 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is just a charming (pardon the pun) little book about the collective nouns we use for groups of animals. One of my favorite memories from upper elementary school -- or maybe even middle school -- was learning all the various collective nouns used for groups of animals. I was just absolutely fascinated. This book is a beautiful little gem -- hardcover, with watercolor paintings of the animals in question, accompanied by informative (and often amusing) text about the history behind the collec ...more
Donna Maguire
I am a massive fan of the natural world and was delighted to be able to get my hands on a copy of this book. I thought that the images used were beautful, the detail was lovely and I wouldn't mind having them as paintings! The whole book was lovely to read and I'd definately recommend it, easy to read and you can pick it up and put it down with ease as the chapters for the different species are a few pages each. 5 stars from me.
May 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: art, language
I liked Matt Sewell's illustrations and the groups he chose, but the text was a little lacking for me. I wish (and here's where it gets nerdy) that he included more history of the how the term came to be or where it was used or other places the term appears.
I don't think that's the point of the book, but I couldn't imagine creating this and then not referring to the first time an "ostentation of peacocks" or a "murmuration of starlings" was used.
Jun 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a charming, whimsical book and I loved everything from the colorful paintings to the playful descriptions to the names for different groups of birds, animals, and sea creatures. I am certain I'll read this book many times, just because it always put a smile on my face!

Review of A Charm of Goldfinches and Other Wild Gatherings by Matt Sewell
Kris Rude
Jan 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I hate to count this toward my reading challenge ( incredibly fast easy read), but it was so much fun I wanted to make sure I remember it. I picked it up at the library because of the illustrations and because I can’t resist a book about language. A hit on both accounts. Loved the paintings and learned a lot about language and some animals I thought I knew. A very happy book.
So far I've really enjoyed Matt Sewell's books on birds. I like the art. I like the checklists that encourage bird watchers. I'm excited about this one too! This one branches out to various animal groups and will appeal to grammar teachers highlighting collective nouns. This is sure to be hit with science, art, and word lovers!
Feb 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: animals, own
A beautifully illustrated guide to the poetic and strange words used for groups of animals. Matt Sewell not only illustrates, but also explores a bit of the origin of the collective nouns for groups of animals and tells us a bit about the animals. The book is a delight to read and look at.
Cristine Williams
A delightful book in which the author describes various groups of animals using an unusual collection of nouns such as a Leap of Leopards or a Company of Parrots. The illustrations are absolutely beautiful.
Victoria Peipert
Sep 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful watercolors! Fun snippets about animals and their packs.

one star off for some cloudiness around intended reader ages. I think it spans a lot of ages and I would read this to younger readers but when I first saw the book I thought it was a children's book.
Dec 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: for-fun
Beautifully illustrated and lovingly described. I'd love to "teach" this book as a piece of inspiration: students can learn collective nouns and illustrate their own, while describing why a group of ravens is called an unkindness.
Patrick Macke
Oct 04, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
kinda fun, kinda silly, illustrations that make you feel like you're five years old ... I'll admit, I do like a good fun fact, but the overall feeling here is that you're moving amongst a mob of word geeks, and that is never a good thing
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Artist and illustrator Matt Sewell has been described as the Banksy of the bird world. Matt works in a variety of media including T-shirts, posters, interiors, sculptures and walls. He has illustrated for the Guardian and Barbour, amongst many others; painted underpasses for the RSPB; and exhibited in London, Manchester, New York, Tokyo and Paris, as well as being an avid ornithologist and regular ...more

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