Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Alex the Parrot: No Ordinary Bird: A True Story” as Want to Read:
Alex the Parrot: No Ordinary Bird: A True Story
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Alex the Parrot: No Ordinary Bird: A True Story

4.19  ·  Rating Details  ·  355 Ratings  ·  102 Reviews
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- ...more
Hardcover, 48 pages
Published October 9th 2012 by Knopf Books for Young Readers (first published January 1st 2010)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Alex the Parrot, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Alex the Parrot

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 683)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Petra X
Mar 12, 2016 Petra X rated it it was amazing
This is a children's book about Dr. Pepperberg's very famous talking parrot, Alex wbose last words were, "Be good. I love you." It made a point that made me think that how we learn is definitely down to evolutionary psychology. The book itself is beautifully illustrated and covers the main points about the difference between all other animal speech and Alex's in a simplified, but scientific way.

Alex apparently needed a great deal of repetitive training in order to be able to say that an item w
Hannah Jefferson
Oct 06, 2013 Hannah Jefferson rated it it was amazing
I can't say enough how much I enjoyed this book or how much I recommend it for kids of any age, whether read aloud to a younger child or independently by an older one. It tells a story of something all kids love - talking animals - and the best part is that it all REALLY happened! Kids will laugh at Alex's silly antics, marvel at his intelligence and maybe even shed a tear or two at his untimely passing. I know I did. The illustrations are watercolor and colored pencil, simple but very vivid and ...more
Alexandria Stephens
Alex the Parrot is the story of a bird who revolutionized the way scientists think about brain size. The Avian Learning Experiment was based on the fact that scientist believed the bigger the brain, the smarter the creature. Alex was an African parrot and had the brain size comparable to a walnut. Although his brain was small, the bird was extraordinarily intelligent. This book can be used in literacy to teach recounting a story. Students can read this book either independently or aloud and eith ...more
Jul 01, 2012 Kayce rated it it was amazing
Cried as I read this one... At work... This is a great description of the scientific process, as well as the story of an amazing animal, and a special friendship. Alex was more than just his name: Avian Learning EXperiment. He was a friend; an intelligent being.

My personal experience with pets and animals in general places me in the school of thought shared by the scientists mentioned in this book. I loved it! Love the message...
Mar 23, 2015 Rena rated it really liked it
Shelves: juvi
I had many parakeets when I grew up and Alex makes me want one again. Birds are amazing creatures with as much attitude as cats. Geez, I'm going to have to go to the pet store!
Brienz Wilkening
May 31, 2014 Brienz Wilkening rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 689
This was a very informative book about a woman named Irene and her parrot ALEX (Avian Learning EXperiment). The story takes you through there growth together and Alex's learning abilities as a parrot. I knew before reading this book that parrots could learn many words but this parrot far outweighed anything that I thought was possible for a parrot to do. The illustrations are very simple and there are quite a few words on each page but in about 40 pages you learn the entire story of Alex and Ire ...more
Susan Brown
Jun 26, 2015 Susan Brown added it
Shelves: nonfiction
Twin Text: Zeno and Alya by Jane Kelley (Copyright 2013)

Stephanie Spinner tells the story of Alex, an African grey parrot. Chosen for a research project, Alex was studied to determine how much parrots could learn and understand language. His remarkable ability helped change the world’s view of animal intellect. With the exception of a brief flashback, the book is written in chronological sequence. It begins with Alex as a one-year-old and ends with his death at 31. The author uses descriptive te
Amy Rae
Nov 09, 2014 Amy Rae rated it liked it
After reading Koko's Kitten yesterday, I was pretty hesitant about this one--I really didn't want it to be full of the same issues. From a bit of outside research, it doesn't look like it is, which I'm happy about.

Anyway, the art for this book is colourful and vividly gets across the life of Alex the African grey parrot. The text is rather long, which makes it a little harder to imagine a reader for the book. Most of the kids who come to my bookshop, by the time they'd be able to read this on th
Soh Kam Yung
Jul 28, 2014 Soh Kam Yung rated it really liked it
Shelves: science, children, nature
A nicely written children's book about the life of Alex the Parrot, one of the most famous parrots in science who helped to show that some birds can be pretty intelligent.

Starting with his life after being bought from a pet store, the book goes on to show his life as an experimental subject, being shown objects and what they are, gradually building up single word vocabularies. Eventually, Alex learns enough to form multiple word sentences and even to make up his own sentences. More importantly,
Aug 02, 2014 Kendall rated it it was amazing
Spinner, S. (2012). Alex the Parrot: No Ordinary Bird. New York, NY: Alfred A. Knopf.

Additional Information: Primary (K-3)

Summary: When Irene Pepperberg bought Alex the parrot for research in 1977, she had no idea that he would surpass expectations and learn more than 100 words. This book details this true story in five sections and alternates between the research science, the relationship between pet and owner, and Alex's strength to beat the odds.

Notable Awards/Reviews: Booklist 10/01/12 (Vo
Picture book version of the story of Alex, an African grey parrot who became famous for his intelligence. Alex was taught how to add and subtract, recognize shapes, sizes, and colors, and speak and understand hundreds of words. There is a lot of text on each page, so this is probably more suited to 1st – 3rd graders, though the brightly colored illustrations would make this a great read-aloud for patient (or interested) younger kids.
Jan 11, 2013 Peacegal rated it really liked it
Shelves: humane-education
This is a wonderful, colorful book that will introduce youngsters to Alex, an African gray parrot who helped change everything we know about bird intelligence and animal cognition. Thanks to Alex, we no longer are unaware that feathered friends aren't "bird brains." His relationship to the people around him is also touching and a fine example of interspecies friendship.
Meaghan Grady
Alex the Parrot: No Ordinary Bird By: Stephanie Spinner 2012
Meaghan G., Spring 2015
*NSTA Outstanding Science Trade Books for 2015*

This was a very informative as well as a fun read! I really enjoyed reading Alex the Parrot. This story is about a bird that changed the way of science and research. Alex is an African Parrot and he gets purchased by a graduate student named Irene. Irene called the parrot Alex because she was going to research him and the research being conducted stood for Avian Learn
Jun 27, 2015 Stan rated it really liked it
Shelves: children-s-book
Although we cannot communicate directly with most animals I have always felt that they understood more than we give them credit for; I even feel this extends to plants, especially trees. If we took the time and made the effort we could have a much better relationship with our fellow sojourners here on planet earth. But we as a species are rather arrogant and close-minded when it comes to accepting the intelligence of other creatures. At least most of us are, and that probably counts doubly for t ...more
Apr 29, 2015 Janie rated it it was amazing
BLUESTEM NOMINEE 2015-2016. Science - Animals - Intelligence - Training
True story of Alex the parrot raised from the age of 1 by Irene Pepperberg. Bought to study his intelligence she called him Alex, short for Avian Learning EXperiment. With his walnut-sized brain he was thought to not be very intelligent, though gray parrots are very vocal. The story is about her training and is quite good. Team this book that tells a lot about scientific principles with a video online of Alex. There are many.
Joanne Zienty
May 18, 2015 Joanne Zienty rated it really liked it
Alex the Parrot may have a brain the size of a walnut, but that doesn't stop him from learning to understand and speak hundreds of words. This true story showcases this fabulous African grey parrot, who is charming and churlish by turns. Especially funny was a section describing his reaction to the "new parrot on the block" who is brought in by the scientist studying animal intelligence. The jealousy that Alex exhibits toward Griffin-- and its manifestations (at one point, he hastily spits out t ...more
Pat Salvatini
Oct 04, 2015 Pat Salvatini rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction-2-4
Interesting true story about graduate student Irene Pepperberg's experiments and training of an African Gray Parrot. I found the book of personal interest since we once owned such a bird. Actually it was my husband's bird as the bird clearly didn't like me, rarely speaking for me and always trying to bite the hand that fed it. Apparently we owned our bird before Alex became famous so I already knew some of the research findings firsthand. Students are fascinated by talking animals, and Alex was ...more
Mar 18, 2015 Kelly rated it really liked it
Alex the Parrot: No Ordinary Bird, written by Stephanie Spinner and illustrated by Meilo So, is a nominee for the 14-15 South Carolina Children's Book Award.

Alex the Parrot: No Ordinary Bird is a true story of an extraordinary animal. This book tells the tale of Irene Pepperberg and her work with Alex, a truly phenomenal African grey parrot.

Irene believed that birds could learn language and communicate with the world around them, and she set out to prove just that. She patiently taught words an
Reviewed at:

Through my fascination with apes, I have learned quite a bit about language acquisition, intelligence and apes. This nonfiction picture book takes a look at these topics from a whole different direction- parrots. Growing up my father always wanted a parrot and specifically an African Grey because of its intelligence. This was my extent of knowledge of these animals until picking up this book and I will say that I am now so intrigued by African
Richie Partington
Nov 08, 2012 Richie Partington rated it it was amazing
Richie’s Picks: ALEX THE PARROT: NO ORDINARY BIRD by Stephanie Spinner and Meilo So, ill., Knopf, October 2012, 48p., ISBN: 978-0-375-86846-7

“A-well-a bird, bird, bird, b-bird's the word
A-well-a bird, bird, bird, well the bird is the word
A-well-a bird, bird, b-bird's the word
A-well-a don't you know about the bird?
Well, everybody knows that the bird is the word!
A-well-a bird, bird, b-bird's the word”
--The Trashmen (1963)

Alex was a bird who knew words. In 1977, grad student Irene Pepperberg purcha
Destinee Sutton
Oct 29, 2012 Destinee Sutton rated it really liked it
I remember when Alex and Me came out in 2008. The story of the smartest bird in the world was bound to be rewritten for children and I think Stephanie Spinner has done a good job of it, especially for a 2nd to 5th grade audience and reluctant readers. With lots of colorful illustrations and a short, clear narrative, this story has major appeal for animal lovers and kids who only want TRUE stories. It might be interesting to compare this to The One and Only Ivan in terms of how animal intelligenc ...more
Jen Traub
Jun 16, 2015 Jen Traub rated it it was amazing
Shelves: informational
I'm learning to enjoy literary nonfiction more! This is the story of Alex, the first parrot that proved they could be as intelligent as other animals, such as the chimp or dolphin. It recounts his time with Irene, the scientist who studied him, through his death.
I enjoyed the personality it gave Alex; he is shown with his own thoughts and feelings, as well as intelligence. His relationship with Irene was fascinating. The illustrations built our understanding.
Danielle Butler
Oct 10, 2013 Danielle Butler rated it it was amazing
Alex is an African grey parrot which is unique because he is a scientific project. Alex was studied around the time that many scientist were studying other animals and trying to get the animals to communicate with humans. Birds were not thought of being intelligent because they have smaller brains than most animals. Alex proves the other scientists wrong by not only using words to describe objects, but showing an actual understanding of language and concept of ideas such as adding and subtractin ...more
Oct 15, 2015 Joyce rated it liked it
This nonfiction picture book tells the story of Alex (Avian Learning EXperiment), an African grey parrot who learned to speak and understand hundreds of words and changed the way scientists viewed the animal brain. The text is simple enough for beginning readers, the illustrations are vibrant and colorful, and Alex's story is remarkable. Recommend this to readers who like stories about birds and animal studies.
Katie Lawrence
Jan 11, 2015 Katie Lawrence rated it really liked it
Shelves: children-s-books
This is a really interesting book that looks at experimental processes scientists use to learn new things about animal behaviors. It was neat to hear about Alex and how feisty he became! I did find myself wishing that there were a few real photographs somewhere in the book - the illustrations are nice, but not quite the same as photos. The text is pretty sophisticated... probably more on a 3rd grade level.
Jun 03, 2015 Kristen rated it really liked it
This is a well-written and skillfully illustrated true story of a parrot named Alex. Alex lived inn a lab run by a scientist named Irene who was trying to demonstrate that animals can understand language, communicate, and generally interact with a higher level of intelligence than previously thought. It's a great story that blends animal appeal, humor, history, and science.
Jennifer Kayla
Jun 13, 2015 Jennifer Kayla rated it really liked it
An Illinois Bluestem 2016 nominee - liked the literary tones to this informative true story. Kids will learn a lot from this picture book (as did I!) about an African gray parrot, the longitudinal study that was done on him about how smaller species' ability to learn and communicate, and his relationship between him and Irene Pepperberg, psychologist.
I'm a Meilo So fangirl, so anything she illustrates I will pick up. This story is a longer read-aloud, but the pay-off is incredible. I read it to several upper elementary groups and they were spell bound. Pairs well with a booktalk of "Daisy to the Rescue."

WG Reading Day September 2015
Ms. Ramsborg
Mar 21, 2013 Ms. Ramsborg rated it really liked it
Shelves: informational
Alex the Parrot
Lexile: 680

I liked this book because it is a true story about a parrot and his trainer. The parrot is an African gray parrot, who was named Alex by his trainer, Irene. The parrot’s name (Alex) stood for Avian Learning Experiment because Irene wanted to prove that birds are highly intelligent at a time that most people thought birds were dumb because they have small brains. I liked learning more about parrots, but the best part was reading about the relationship between Alex and Ir
Mar 05, 2015 Alex rated it it was amazing
Loved this book. I may be biased because I have pet parrots. I've heard about Alex the Parrot, watching videos online, and I've seen another book at the bookstore. But, this is wonderful for children. Great illustrations. The writing was clear and beautiful.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 22 23 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Mrs. Harkness and the Panda
  • Snakes
  • My First Day
  • Dogs on Duty: Soldiers' Best Friends on the Battlefield and Beyond
  • Helen's Big World: The Life of Helen Keller
  • Island: A Story of the Galápagos
  • Parrots Over Puerto Rico
  • No Monkeys, No Chocolate
  • Brothers at Bat: The True Story of an Amazing All-Brother Baseball Team
  • The Elephant Scientist (Scientist in the Field Series)
  • Galapagos George
  • Becoming Babe Ruth
  • Annie and Helen
  • Neighborhood Sharks: Hunting with the Great Whites of California's Farallon Islands
  • Electric Ben: The Amazing Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin
  • Zombie Makers: True Stories of Nature's Undead
  • Jimmy the Joey: The True Story of an Amazing Koala Rescue
  • Henry and the Cannons: An Extraordinary True Story of the American Revolution
I was born in Davenport, Iowa, and grew up in Rockaway Beach, New York. I read straight through my childhood, with breaks for food, sleep, and the bathroom. I went to college in Bennington, Vermont, moved to New York City, and took a job in publishing so I could get paid for reading. I read so much bad fiction that I needed a break, so I moved to London, and from there I traveled to Morocco, Iran, ...more
More about Stephanie Spinner...

Share This Book