From Magpies Magazine September 2010, by Clare Hingston

From Australian Bookseller & Publisher Magazine (July 2010, Vol 89, No 9)

from From Reading Time, Official Magazine of CBCA


A collection of both traditional and made up collective nouns, A Crash of Rhinos! is a celebration of descriptive language. The nouns are accompanied by fabulous mixed media illustrations that give the pages a wonderful sense of movement and enhance the mean­ing of the nouns themselves, with the wobble of wobbygongs looking very wobbly indeed. Some of my favourite collective nouns included a frontispiece of frogs and a dribble of dibblers (although I had to look up what a dibbler actually was). I also loved a pronk of springboks and the endpaper of elephants was a fit­ting finale. I learnt quite a bit from both the nouns and animals chosen for this book, and believe it would create conversation and curiosity about both. As well as encouraging playfulness with language this book draws attention to some of the more neglected animals of the world, such as shrikes, booby birds and cassowaries, raising awareness for these often forgotten and often en­dangered animals. My one criticism is that Mullins didn't specify which nouns were made up and which were traditional; a possible confusion for young readers as well as those of us, like me, not entirely up to scratch with our collective nouns.* That said it is a very enjoyable read. The illustrations and text compliment each other perfectly and the possibilities for wordplay are endless!


* Author's Note: Click here to read "How this book came about."


A Crash of Rhinos! is a quirky picture book full of beautiful illustrations and imaginative collective nouns that is sure to attract all kinds of readers and leave them feeling amused and perhaps a little perplexed. Readers will immediately be drawn to the witty groupings and clever phrases for true and invented collective nouns (my personal favourite is ‘a misery of mosquitos’) and the strange sense of play that is set in motion. A Crash of Rhinos! entices the reader to play along and use their imagination, something that is very rare in picture books. As someone who works in a bookstore, I found it hard to review this book as my thoughts immediately jumped to the questions, where should I place this book and to whom would it appeal? But perhaps these aren’t always the most important concerns. Patricia Mullins has created a unique and entertaining book that will surprise and amuse and should be a great addition to any library or retail shelf. It will be a book that will need to be handpromoted in order to be appreciated, but the rewards are certainly there for any reader to uncover.


The endpapers of this delightful book are a study of frogs as the frontispiece and a collection of elephants are on the final pages. Both are beautifully illustrated as is the rest of this book. Every double page is a mass of illustrations of numerous birds and animals, each variety a group with a wonderfully appropriate collective known to describe it, eg 'A pandemonium of parrots', A cacophony of cockatoos; and A galaxy of galahs. Fifteen double pages of birds and animals are quite breath-taking. It is quite inspiring, both for children of almost any age, and teachers too. It is a joy and a delight, both in the colourful presentation of so many animals and birds and the fabulous collection of collective nouns used to describe them, such as "a flamboyance of flamingos' etc. Don't miss it. PG

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