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Alex the Parrot: No Ordinary Bird: A True…

Alex the Parrot: No Ordinary Bird: A True Story

by Stephanie Spinner

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This is the story of Alex, an African grey parrot that sparked change in the world of animal brain research, and his trainer, a graduate student at Purdue.

  apoffenroth13 | Nov 30, 2015 |
Recommended Ages: Gr. 2-4

Plot Summary: Irene has always loved birds. She's had them as pets since she was four years old. But when she goes to the pet store to select an African Gray parrot, sh intends to keep him as more than a pet. She wants to prove to the world that birds are smart, just like scientists proved that apes, chimps, and dophins can communicate. She names her bird Alex, short for Avian Learning Experiment, and she begins work immediately. With the help of many assistants, Irene spends years training Alex to identify color, matter, and shape of objects. Alex learned how to identify how items were similar and could even identify when there was nothing similar. Irene had many people text Alex in his skills, which required a lot of training and repetition. Good thing Alex was a pretty good sport about it, occasionally teasing or bossing his trainers. He demanded food and rubs frequently. He also purposefully gave incorrect answers to fool a younger bird. Will the world understand the depth of his intelligence?

Setting: 1977

Irene Pepperburg - 27 y/o, wanted to be a chemist before watching a tv series about animal communication
Alex - African gray parrot

Recurring Themes: animal communication, research, experiments, intelligence

Controversial Issues: none

Personal Thoughts: I found the main plot to be very interesting, but it seems like there were too many minor subplots to distract. Very much reads like informational text. It would have been better with rising action leading to a climax in the story. I also think the book would have been more engaging if it was written from the perspective of Irene so the reader became her.

Genre: Historical nonfiction

Pacing: medium, lengthy text on each page of the picture book
Characters: not very well developed, learn a lot about Alex but don't connect with him too much

Activity: ( )
  pigeonlover | Aug 20, 2015 |
This book was a biography about a bird. It was super interesting, and was about a real parrot that was very smart. The owner buys the parrot, and teaches him how to communicate with her. The parrot knows hundreds of words, and knows how to describe different types of objects. He surpassed what was known to be the max for parrot intelligence. After training Alex for a while, a second bird is purchased. He begins to lead the way for the younger bird. At the end, Alex suddenly dies, which is a tragedy not only to the owner, but also the world, since in his short life, Alex had become famous. ( )
  NatalieCJones | Mar 9, 2015 |
I reaally liked this book! I would say this is an informational/biography book about the parrott named Alex. It is based on a true story of a parrott who learns to respond and describe words and shapes. He can tell his teacher what color the blue key or what shape the piece of wood is. I think this would be a great book to read in class beacuse not only does it show how animals are similar to people, but also it can show children how they learn and what the stages of learning look like. ( )
  kfrost32 | Feb 3, 2015 |
Z has loved Alex since seeing a Nova special on animal communication. This was interesting . . . ( )
  beckydj | Jul 16, 2014 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0375868461, Hardcover)

In 1977, graduate student Irene Pepperberg walked into a pet store and bought a year-old African grey parrot. Because she was going to study him, she decided to call him Alex--short for Avian Learning EXperiment. At that time, most scientists thought that the bigger the brain, the smarter the creature; they studied great apes and dolphins. African greys, with their walnut-sized "birdbrains," were pretty much ignored--until Alex. 

His intelligence surprised everyone, including Irene. He learned to count, add, and subtract; to recognize shapes, sizes, and colors; and to speak, and understand, hundreds of words. These were things no other animal could do. Alex wasn't supposed to have the brainpower to do them, either. But he did them anyway.

Accompanied by Meilo So's stunning illustrations, Alex and Irene's story is one of groundbreaking discoveries about animal intelligence, hard work, and the loving bonds of a unique friendship. 

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:59 -0400)

Recounts the true story of an African grey parrot who was the subject of a graduate student's scientific experiment on animal intelligence and who astonished everyone with its ability to add, understand concepts and speak hundreds of words.

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