There is a hoard of books. This one is its leader.

Title: There Is a Tribe of Kids
Author and Illustrator: Lane Smith
Rating: 9.5
Readability: 9
Source: Raincoast Books for review

Description from Goodreads:

When a young boy embarks on a journey alone . . .
he trails a colony of penguins,
undulates in a smack of jellyfish,
clasps hands with a constellation of stars,
naps for a night in a bed of clams,
and follows a trail of shells,
home to his tribe of friends.

If Lane Smith’s Caldecott Honor Book Grandpa Green was an homage to aging and the end of life, There Is a Tribe of Kids is a meditation on childhood and life’s beginning. Smith’s vibrant sponge-paint illustrations and use of unusual collective nouns such as smack and unkindness bring the book to life. Whimsical, expressive, and perfectly paced, this story plays with language as much as it embodies imagination.

What I Liked:

Firstly, the concept for this book is pure genius. Collective nouns are one of those delightfully peculiar aspects of the English language that are far too underused. Smith takes us on a beautiful semantic adventure through jungles, under oceans and the across the sky.

The varied sizes of the vignettes, some full page, some the size of postage stamps, brought a wonderful range of visual interest to the story. And the illustrations are simply gorgeous. The greens, blues and browns give the book a crunchy, earthy feel and the sponge painting technique only accentuates that. Wonderful.

I liked that the little boy was quite androgynous, so my daughter can decide that it’s actually a girl if she wants it to be. (I even thought it was a girl until I noticed it said “boy” inside the dust jacket!)

What I Didn’t Like:

I think my one issue with the book was the font. I just didn’t love it for this story. And if I’m being picky I suppose I would change the pace slightly on a couple pages. But those are the only things I can come up with!


When I was a kid two of our favourite books were The Stinky Cheese Man and The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs. We loved the stories but the illustrations by Lane Smith made them completely unique. If you haven’t read them, do it. Right now. They are totally hilarious. (Also the Big Bad Wolf was totally innocent. Poor dude.)

And if you click here you can find a list of collective nouns. My two favourites have to be an ostentation of peacocks and an implausibility of gnus.

If you’d like to add this wonderful story to your bustle of books, click here and use my affiliate link!


A song of stories. A tale of travels. A commotion of kids.

The collective noun for books is “library.” Boring. What would be a better one?
A forest of books? A bouquet of books? What can you come up with?