~ Lanette Raymond, Ph.D., President, Long Island Parrot Society
~ Marc Morrone from Parrots of the World, the Martha Stewart Show, and the host of The Pet Shop on the LifeSkool Cable Channel.
~ Barbara Heidenreich for Good Bird Magazine.
“Little Birdies” by Anthony F. Lewis
Reviewed by Barbara Heidenreich for Good Bird Magazine, Fall, 2009.
Most fiction these days seem to focus on murder mystery, crime or romance. I have to admit none of those genres spark my interest. However I recently came upon a novel perfectly suited for parrot enthusiasts who like character studies, suspense, drama and action!\
I found author Anthony F. Lewis and his book Little Birdies by chance via Twitter. Two weeks later I had a copy of this 400 plus page novel in my hands.
It is clear the work of Irene Pepperberg and the infamous Alex the African grey are the launching point into an exploration of a research project that encounters a few unexpected bumps. Imagine the next generation of Alex with an even more advanced capacity for communication with humans. Now what would happen if those birds reproduced? Without giving away too much, the situation leads to a flock with some very special talents as well as some dangerous attributes. However despite their flaws they are well loved by their caretakers as evidenced by the lengths they go to in order to do right by these creatures, even when they misbehave.
Parrot owning readers will find it easy to relate to the many subtle references to life with a parrot. Little comments about the shoulder riding ring neck parrot bonking his beak on his owner’s cheek assure you this author has spent some time with parrots. The dedication confirms a special parrot probably had a lot of influence on this novel.
A few behavioral interpretations might be a bit outdated (such as dominance in relation to height.) But these are forgivable given the fictitious nature of the book. Overall I found myself nodding along when things like endangered kakapos were mentioned, or that the ring starting to appear on the bird’s neck might mean the bird is sexually dimorphic. Lewis most definitely did his research and includes plenty of parrot factoids to keep the bird person engaged.
Set in my old stomping grounds upstate New York, Lewis paints the terrain in great detail whether it be the university classroom, the parrot sanctuary, roadside fruit stands or wooded rolling hills. I enjoyed picturing the sights and sounds of upstate New York being invaded by a flock of misfits.
I think what I liked most about this novel was that it was a rollicking good adventure, full of science, suspense, a hint of romance, a few bad guys, a few heroes and of course birds as a focal point. Even with all that, there was also room for an important take home message. It certainly struck me when one of the good guys said to his bird “We take you into our home, and if we treat you right, if we earn your trust, you give us your hearts.” Words of wisdom from a writer who knows the connection we share with animals. You can order your copy of Little Birdies at www.anthonylewisbooks.com.
I am a retired microbiologist and bird lover. I enjoy writing combining science, avian information, and strong values for youth fictional stories. I haven't published yet, but hope to by 2014. As part of my research, I found and finished reading "Little Birdies". Wow, I was totally engrossed in this book! I could follow the theme, science, characters, and birds so clearly. Your respect for all of the birds was refreshing. I think this could be made into a movie ala Avatar for the dino-birds!
Even though it doesn't seem to have birds in the plot, my next book to read is "The Cenacle Scroll." Thanks for your mind and your writing.