A sloth of bears, a smack of jellyfish, a nuisance of cats — these are some of the surprising and idiosyncratic names we have for groups of animals. Inspired by the evocative possibilities of collective nouns, also called “terms of venery,” author Kyle Lukoff and illustrator Natalie Nelson have created a picture book full of clever wordplay and delightful illustrations. Each spread features a nugget of a story using a particular term, which is accompanied by a collage illustration that serves as the visual punch line.
But where did these unusual names come from? Many of them can be traced back to a book on hunting, hawking and heraldry, printed in 1486 — the Book of St. Albans, which has been reproduced many times since.