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Conversations with Cosmo: At Home with an African Grey Parrot

3.46  ·  Rating details ·  82 Ratings  ·  22 Reviews
In CONVERSATIONS WITH COSMO: AT HOME WITH AN AFRICAN GREY PARROT, Betty Jean Craige tells the story of her parrot's education in the language and culture of her human friends. Cosmo is a seven-year-old female Congo African Grey Parrot who by the age of six had learned more than a hundred words and had uttered more than two hundred different phrases, makes up her own phrase ...more
Hardcover, 136 pages
Published May 1st 2010 by Sherman Asher Publishing (first published January 1st 2010)
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Petra X
This is just about the strangest book I've ever read. I was expecting something along the lines of Dr. Irene Pepperberg's books about her cognitive studies with her beloved parrot, Alex. That is, scientific and given that the author is a Professor Emerita of Comparative Literature, well written. I got neither.

The author makes it clear that her parrot is a pet and not the subject of a study, it's just anecdotes, but that's ok. A serious academic should be able to convey the depth of the parrot's
Oct 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Having a non-talking 35 year old female African Grey at home, I was beyond entertained by all of Cosmo's ressponses. Just because mine does not talk, beyond a strangled sounding hello, does not mean that I do not know what she wants. Thank you, Betty Jean, for writing your book. Lucky and Tim and I loved listening to you and Cosmo.
May 04, 2011 rated it really liked it
In the audiobook version you can hear recordings of Cosmo speaking. It really makes all the difference...
Oct 18, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, animals
This was an easy read and had a lot of good information about the pros and cons of getting a parrot. It was NOT, however, a scientific study about language, it's just one woman's experience in working with a language trained parrot. She seems a pleasant and caring woman, but I had a few issues with this book.

The author's presentation really makes her seem more obsessed with this parrot than a simple, yet strong, pet-human bond. A few points I arched my my eyebrow and thought, "is that really wha
Aidan K
Mar 13, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: form-i-english
The author's main idea is that humans do not respect nonhuman animals enough, and that this is causing the population of many animals to decrease. The story is told by Betty Jean. Betty Jean is also the protagonist. Cosmo is another character. Dr. Betty Jean Craige and her African Grey Parrot, Cosmo, have created a language almost like English to communicate with each other. This book tells of the stories of Betty Jean and Cosmo's conversations. Betty Jean also gives her opinions about animal tr ...more
Sep 20, 2014 rated it it was ok
Really sweet memoir, but was rambly, repetitive, and lacked cohesion. I loved that she implored people to care well for their avian pets.
Aug 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Aside from the tips at the end being kinda off, the book itself was great.
May 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
Although parrots are often credited with astounding gifts of mimicry, these misunderstood birds are largely believed to be incapable of more. In recent years, however, scholars have attempted to quantify the emotional and intellectual capacity of parrots, both domestically bred and in the wild. Before she stopped keeping track, Craige (comparative literature, Univ. of Georgia) documented that Cosmo, her beloved six-year-old African gray, had learned to speak over 100 words and more than 200 phra ...more
Oct 24, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An easy read about a topic I find fascinating -- animal intelligence. A few years ago I read "Alex and Me" about an African Grey parrot who was essentially learning to decode sounds (aka reading words). He was using language not just to "parrot" comments made in his presence but to make requests, answer questions and it would seem express himself. Unlike that author, this author is not a scientist. This This is more of a personal account about a woman's experience with an African Grey. Easy read ...more
Apr 13, 2012 rated it liked it
If you've read about Alex the Parrot you may like reading about Cosmo. It was neat to get the perspective of an African Gray in a home setting. These birds are pretty awesome with their language use! Cosmo and Betty Jean have a sweet relationship. I liked how Cosmo made jokes about the phone, reported when she'd seen a squirrel, and interacted with her owner's doggies. The book is a tad repetitive and slows down a bit when Betty Jean is philosophizing about human and animal relationships. Hearin ...more
Jenna Krichbaum
Feb 26, 2012 rated it it was ok
After reading Alex and Me I thought it would be fun to read more books about African Greys. I had heard about Cosmo from online websites and thought this would be a fun book. We did enjoy it for the most part, but it was a bit repetitive in parts, which led to my rating to go down from 3 stars to 2. I think it's a good first book from Betty Jean Craige and if she does write more about Cosmo, I would most likely read it.
Callie R.
Though I have ever been a fan of Craige's amusing columns in the Athens paper, I found her book to be a little meandering and monotonous. Her talent for column writing does not translate into the extended commitment and draw required of a book. However, I highly recommend her columns for they are lively, amusing, and quite extraordinary.
Aug 04, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: animal lovers
Very insightful & educational. Loved learning more about African Grey Parrots, as I've always dreamed of having one myself. Cosmo's antics & accomplishments certainly make one think (about language, animal & human behaviour, plus a number of other issues), as well as surprising & entertaining us. Recommended.
Sep 15, 2012 rated it liked it
3.5 stars. Nothing new or insightful if you are familiar with 'Alex and Me' by Irene Pepperberg or other avian studies (or if you are a bird owner). The stories of her interactions with Cosmo, however, are fun and worth reading. It won't be enlightening, but at times you will laugh out loud and overall it is a decent one-afternoon-read kind of book.
Aug 10, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir-bios
This is a very proud mama telling delightful stories about her baby. It doesn't get far as a scientific document, and gets a little repetitive as a narrative. But it's a treat to get to know Cosmo in this quick read.
Teri Temme
Dec 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved this book and learning about Cosmo! Entertaining read.
May 06, 2011 rated it liked it
Very cute and interesting chronicle of Cosmo the parrot and her developing language skills over the years. I mainly focused on the conversations and glossed over the scientific stuff inbetween.
Jun 02, 2011 rated it it was ok
Was hoping for more depth
Apr 19, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Conversations with is entertaining and informative. Cosmo is a smart and funny bird.
Apr 16, 2010 rated it liked it
Interesting take on relationships with pets.

Very amusing at times.
Nov 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This was a very fun and quick read. I loved Alex and Me so picked this book about Cosmo. I found myself laughing out loud more then once.
Jan 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
I wish I had read this before I got my
African Grey so I could have used her method.
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Dr. Betty Jean Craige is Professor Emerita of Comparative Literature and Director Emerita of the Willson Center for Humanities and Arts at the University of Georgia. She has lived in Athens, Georgia, for almost forty-five years, and published books in the fields of literature, history of ideas, politics, ecology, and art. Her most recent non-academic books are Conversations with Cosmo: At Home wit ...more
More about Betty Jean Craige...
“... by treating nature as exterior and inferior to humans we saw no harm to ourselves in polluting the soil, the plants, the air and the water. We did not notice the effect of our pollution on whatever walked over it, ran across it, climbed up it, flew through it, or swam in it.

Now we notice that harming other constituents of our planetary system brings harm to ourselves.”
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