Bo Parrot is a parrot on a mission. He is actually the
spirit of a young boy from the Solomon Islands who didn’t
respect nature. As a punishment for chopping down the
biggest tree in the forest, he was turned into a parrot with
the ability to speak to one human of his choice. After
spending thirty years as a parrot he has a lot to share, and
he finds a welcoming audience in a young girl named Alice.
Alice wants to know about Bo’s background, and he tells her
how the forest he lived in was cut down, and how along with
hundreds of other baby parrots, he was sold by poachers. He
endured a treacherous journey to the United States with
little food and water and little concern for whether he
lived or died. Bo has the magical ability to summon other
parrots, so the reader also hears of the plight of birds
from Brazil, Guatemala and the Ivory Coast. Finally, we hear
from a bird that was born in the United States and learn
that buying a parrot bred in captivity is the most humane
way to keep such an exotic bird as a pet.
With just a few missteps, the story relates a lot of
information without slowing the narrative. The author
manages to communicate a strong environmental message
without being preachy. While the story focuses on parrots,
Bo and Alice also discuss the larger issues of conservation
and taking care of the planet because all living beings
share an important connection. What the Parrot Told Alice
will teach readers a few new things and will certainly make
them think about their place in the world - and what they’ve
done lately to improve it.
Each chapter begins with a pen-and-ink illustration
highlighting an upcoming scene. The drawings of parrots
being captured are especially effective at complementing the
narrative. It’s one thing to read about a crate of parrots
being left to drown in a river, but seeing an illustration
makes it that much more horrifying. Other drawings simply
give the reader a glimpse of the main characters and
According to promotional materials, the book is intended for
an audience of nine- to thirteen-year-olds. The fairy tale
nature of the story is suitable for a young audience, but
the basic writing style of the author seems better suited
for older readers. A number of descriptions and references
and some of the vocabulary (even with a glossary) would go
over the heads of all but a few fourth and fifth graders.
For instance, would a nine-year-old really appreciate the
idea, “The parrot gave a serene Buddha-like nod”? Perhaps if
used as a read-aloud a teacher or parent could help younger
children through the more difficult parts.
Overall, What the Parrot Told Alice is an inventive story
with an important message for readers of all ages.