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.
About the Author
Margaret Landon first became interested in Anna Leonowens' story, when a friend recommended to her "The English Governess at the Siamese Court" which was published in 1870. Fascinated with the story and its potential, she contacted one of Anna's grandchildren, and in 1941 began to seriously research writing an updated (and vastly more entertaining) version of the book. "Anna and the King" is the product of her efforts.
MEILO SO is the illustrator of such beautiful, award-winning books such as Moonbeams, Dumplings, and Dragon Boats: A Treasury of Chinese Holiday Tales, Activities, and Recipes and The White Swan Express: A Story about Adoption. She lives in the Shetland Islands, UK.
Starred Review, Publishers Weekly, September 24, 2012: “It’s a remarkable story with a sad ending—but it’s a good kind of sad.”