I can never resist a good animal story, especially birds, and I recently finished reading Alex and Me by Dr. Irene Pepperberg. This was a story I couldn’t put down, nor could I keep from laughing out-loud (while my husband is giving me strange looks because I almost never laugh out-loud while reading a book!) or from being moved to tears. Alex was an amazing African Grey Parrot who had both a high IQ and a high EQ. My favorite parts of this book were seeing Alex’s growth in cognition and his connection to Dr. Pepperberg. I was amazed to hear that Alex said “I love you” and meant it. I also loved reading about Alex’s mirth and jollity and sometimes his bad behavior. He made me laugh out loud. I loved how he would say what he wanted (“I want nut, I want corn, I want kiwi” and so on) before doing an assigned task. He was very much like a small child in both actions and verbal patterns. You can stay connected to Dr. Pepperberg’s work through The Alex Foundation. One aspect of this book is that it reads well for all ages. Parents could read this book aloud to their children and would make for great discussions about science, research, and going beyond that. This book would also make for a very good ‘one book one community’ book program in a library or school.

I followed up Alex and Me with a wonderful new book by Kate DiCamillo, The Magician’s Elephant. Kate DiCamillo is one of my favorite children’s authors and she is also a Newberry winner for her endearing story, Tale of Despereaux. I also loved Because of Winn-Dixie, the heartwarming story of a girl and her dog. You can read about her books and excerpts on her website. My favorite news site, NPR just released a story on The Magician’s Elephant and you can even read an excerpt from the book. (I am an NPR junkie and both my IE and Mozilla home pages are set to NPR. I can’t miss a day of news from NPR it seems.) The Magician’s Elephant is a lovely story about an orphan, who has a dream to be fulfilled and it involves an elephant. The story is ultimately about love and caring for family. It even has a “storybook ending” which hopeless romantics like me just love.  The book also is filled with the beautiful illustrations by Yoko Tanaka. I love Kate DiCamillo’s themes with animals and children and making something good out of something bad. Kudos to Kate, she’s done it again!

I am currently reading Life List: A Woman’s Quest for the World’s Most Amazing Birds by Olivia Gentile. This is another bird-related book about a birder named Phoebe Snetsinger and her passion for creating her life list of bird sightings. The story is billed as “the true story of a woman who has one year to live and is determined to see every bird in the world.” Fantastic! Olivia sets the story with a biography of Phoebe Snetsinger and her family and what drove her obsession for the extreme birding quest.

Have a favorite animal-related book or story? Tell me your favorites and leave a comment for this posting. Happy Reading!

Life List: A Woman’s Quest for the World’s Most Amazing Birds