Group hug! by Andy Fackrell

cover image

While reading this excellent book I had Jennifer Cossins book, 101 Collective nouns (2015) on my desk as well. The two make a wonderful pair of resources and I could see many applications in the classroom.

Group hug shows the collective noun for just eight of the world’s creatures, most endangered or at least vulnerable. Each quartet of pages begins with two rhyming lines that ask a question, then turning the page the answer is given, again in rhyme pertaining to the animal the noun relates to. On one page a young boy introduces the question thus

‘Salamat, my Sumatran star
Why in the wild do you roam so far?’
On the door to his cage is a map of where he roams and the label of Tiger.'

Over the page four lines

‘Whatever soothes the soul is good,
its just too crowded in the ‘hood.
Thank you, Wilbur, for letting us speak,
our tiger group is called a streak.’

Each of the verses gives information about the animal’s habitat which will intrigue the reader.

The rhymes are simple enough to have the children learn some to repeat them, predicting the last word of each line, and saying it with the reader. They will be encouraged to try out the verse format for themselves, thinking of other endangered animals they could research.

The vivacious illustrations were executed with HB pencil and Photoshop watercolour brushes, giving a bold brightly coloured series of pages for each animal. All readers will be intrigued and informed as they read the pages. And astounded at some of the words that show a group of animals. A group of flamingoes is a flamboyance, while a group of Sumatran tigers is a streak. Young readers will have fun working out just why that particular word is used to show a collection. Teacher's notes are available.

Themes: Animals, Collective nouns, Word play, Verse, Humour.

Fran Knight