A Charm of Goldfinches and Other Wild Gatherings

"We as humans are romantic poets at heart," says illustrator Matt Sewell. In the introduction to A Charm of Goldfinches and Other Wild Gatherings, he muses on the urge to name what we see in nature, and the elaborate labels we choose as collective nouns. Consider, for example, a skein of geese and a fever of stingrays. For each entry in this handsome volume, Sewell's enchanting artwork brings the animal kingdom to life in a way that is just as quirky as the names they bear. And for the grammar geek, he explores a bit of the etymology and context as well. About a business of ferrets, he writes, "The broadly used term 'business' is actually a mistranslation of 'busyness.' As anyone can attest, ferrets are much more busy... than they are businesslike." For the nature lover, the word nerd and the eccentric who has everything, A Charm of Goldfinches is an offbeat treat. --Dave Wheeler, associate editor, Shelf Awareness

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