Alistair is an African grey parrot who is tortured by his life in captivity.
He narrates his tale in prose and poetry, alternating with Fritz Feldman, an almost-12-year-old boy who works in a pet shop, and Bertie Plopky, an elderly woman. The birds and animals all communicate with one another, displaying unique perspectives. Bertie speaks mainly through letters to her deceased husband, and Fritz keeps a journal. Although they were hatched in the pet shop, Alistair dreams of escaping with his sister, Aggie, to a world of trees and blue sky. His elaborate plans and attempts are always foiled, due in great part to his inability to fly because of a damaged wing. His frustration and anger lead him to pluck his own feathers and bite the hands that feed him. He refuses to see that Aggie is thoroughly content with her life as Fritz’s pet, and when Bertie purchases him, he is resentful and uncooperative in spite of her kindness. As their interactions increase, however, the humans and birds grow a loving friendship, finding insights into themselves and one another. Leonardo carefully balances fantasy with a grounded reality. The three narratives flow nicely at a measured pace over the course of a year, allowing readers to see a complete, complex picture of the intertwining lives. The punny headings and poetry references ("One Flew Over the Parrot's Cage—or—Parrot-ise Lost") will likely fly right over the heads of young readers. The book adheres to the white default.
Warmhearted, delightfully quirky, and believable. (Fantasy. 8-12)