The School Librarian, Autumn 2009

Far too often my phone rings and a voice says ‘I’ve written a book for children and…’ and… and I know it is privately published, or vanity-publisher produced, effort which more often than not is poorly edited, not at all attractively set out and of far less value to the world than in the author’s own estimation. But very occasionally what arrives can be an absolute gem. These two books (A drove of bullocks and A filth of starlings) are wonderful, fresh looking with exemplary design, layout and print and with stunning quality colours. And yes they are ‘privately’ conceived, created and produced, by a husband and wife team with their own group-of-two name of PatrickGeorge. Within both books each double-page spread is devoted to a collective noun for a group of creatures and all are accurate and true however unlikely some might appear at first. Each has a graphic representation of the collective phrase and each of these is brilliant, bold, delightful, clever, funny and very, very witty. Each has a short paragraph of explanation and enlargement on the lower left-hand of the pages with a silhouette of the animal featured. The overall effect is visually highly attractive and so almost impossible to convey in a verbal descriptive piece, hence the illustration to accompany this review.

The few words are very well phrased so that, for example, ‘A litter of kittens’ has these cosy, soft pets ‘purring, kneading and trusting’ with, of course, the middle one of these three, the paw/claw settling movement, pronounced as needing when read aloud. Whilst I could think of so many uses with these books in both primary and secondary schools the main focus has to be on sheer enjoyment, they are such fun! The pair of them make for a real duo of delights, and to cap it all I understand that currently school or school library direct sales are at a cost of £6.99 each. Irresistible – put them near the top of any acquisitions shortlist – buy them.

© PatrickGeorge 2009-2019