Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Review: Alex and Me

By Irene Pepperberg

My Synopsis

Alex is an African Grey parrot bought by the author for research, and becomes an unexpected, beloved friend.

My Thoughts

The book was a little slow in the beginning, but when Pepperberg provided more detail about Alex's personality, I fell in love...

At one point Alex was sick and needed nebulizer treatments, where he had to sit in a vapor-filled crate. Each time the vet put him in the crate he would say, "Wanna go back....wanna go back," asking to be put back in his regular cage. When the treatment was over a timer went off. He figured out the routine, and as soon as the timer went off he said, "Come here. Wanna go back!" If the staff was busy and couldn't get to him right away, he would yell, "Pay attention!", which he learned from the students who said that to him during research training.

After Alex had been through a few months of training, another parrot, Griffin, was brought in for additional research. If Griffin had difficulty answering a question, Alex would prompt him. For example, if the answer was "7," and Griffin hesitated, Alex would say "ssss..." "ssss..." as a hint, as one would to a kindergartner learning to read. Also, if Griffin didn't speak clearly enough, Alex told him to "say better."

During one training session the author had different colored numbers laid out and asked Alex, "What number is green?" Instead of answering her question he kept asking for a nut. She said, "Alex, I'll give you a nut when we're finished." Pepperberg asked him again, and again he said, "Wanna nut." After going back and forth a few times and thinking maybe she didn't understand, he said, very slowly, "Nu-uh-t." (Can't you just imagine? Like, duh lady, do I have to spell it out for you?)

And for anyone who thinks parrots don't have feelings? How about this exchange between Alex and the author, which was their usual goodbye as she left the lab for the night...

Alex: You be good. I love you.

Pepperberg: I love you, too.

Alex: You'll be in tomorrow?

Pepperberg: Yes, I'll be in tomorrow.

Do I Recommend?



Bought from an indie store called Sue's News.

My Rating


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