Friday, October 25, 2013

Alex the Parrot: No Ordinary Bird by Stephanie Spinner

Alex the Parrot: No Ordinary Bird by Stephanie Spinner, illustrated by Meilo So

Rating: 5 stars

This is a great, great, GREAT nonfiction book about Irene Pepperberg, a female scientist who a leading thinker on animal intelligence.  Here's the review I wrote up for Washington Family Magazine:

Without a doubt, this is one of the best nonfiction children's books I've ever read--and, with two big readers and one children's book blog, I read heaps of children's books.  So that's sayin' somethin'.

Let me tell you about the book, and then I'll tell you why you should buy it for your child or classroom, and make it your gift of choice for any 5- or 6-year old's birthday.

Here's the real Alex, working his magic
Stephanie Spinner simply tells the story of the unique friendship of Irene Pepperberg, a graduate student of biology at Purdue University, and Alex (short for Avian Learning Experiment), the African grey parrot she purchased and studied.  Their relationship began in 1977 when most people thought animals weren't very smart--especially animals with small brains, like birds.  Irene soon taught Alex the names and shapes and how to count; Alex picked up how to say his favorite words on his own.

Over the years, Irene wrote about Alex and all of the things that he could do, but it wasn't until Alex was on TV that he started to get noticed.  His personality helped--he would bob his head and sway to the music, he would stick his head in a mug and make silly noises and he'd stretch out his neck and say, "You tickle!" when he wanted to be tickled.  "Alex liked being tickled so much that his face would turn pink with pleasure."  (How cute is that?!)

To read the rest of the review, please click here.

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