CM . . . . Volume XX Number 8 . . . . October 25, 2013
When Guapo the parrot is dropped off as an unexpected pet, the Gibson family isn't sure they can make their life with him work. But when a dreaded relative comes for an unwelcome stay at the house, this loud and imitative bird might just be the perfect thing to get the fussy old aunt out of the way.
Would Someone Please Answer the Parrot! is a funny tale about the trials and surprises of having a new family pet. Guapo is a happy parrot, but he is loud and is an expert at imitating sounds. His ability to mimic the phone ringing or sirens screaming causes chaos and confusion in the household, much to the pleasure of the siblings Zoe and Zack. Although the family is not certain whether they can keep the bird or not, his annoying habits prove to be useful when stuffy Auntie Pattie comes for an extended stay. His squawks, flutters, and loud imitations drive Pattie to the point where she cannot stand staying in the house any longer. She leaves, and the family decides that Guapo can stay.
As the story provides some good laughs, readers will likely find Guapo's antics in Will Someone Please Answer the Parrot! by Beryl Young amusing. What this tale lacks, however, is heart. The children find Guapo to be funny, and the parents find him annoying. The aunt, who brings the children candy and hair elastics (which they hate), is seen as the villain, although she never seems to really do anything wrong other than overstaying her welcome at her once-yearly visit. The resolution of the tale is quick, and the way the family learns to love Guapo (by him annoying the aunt enough to make her leave) isn't exactly heartfelt.
The inspiration behind this story was an actual African Grey Parrot. At the end of the book, there is a page devoted to explaining about the African Grey Parrot breed and the fascinating ability these birds have to mimic sounds. The story, however, does not actively use these facts. Guapo does imitate many things, but the bulk of the tale is about how his imitations aggravate and amuse others, without any explanation of how the bird is capable of making the sounds. There is a fascinating truth to Guapo's character, and it would have been wonderful to see these truths more prominently displayed in the tale.
Nevertheless, Will Someone Please Answer the Parrot! will be enjoyable for many readers. The illustrations drawn by Jason Doll highlight the chaotic nature of life with the parrot, and they draw particular attention to certain scenes (such as when Guapo squawks "Bombs away!" before letting out droppings, action the illustrations always show). The movement, colour, and busyness of the pictures adds to the book's fast-paced quality, making it appealing for those looking for a funny, action-packed tale.
Will Someone Please Answer the Parrot! is an amusing story about a family getting a new, unexpected pet. While some readers may dislike the loud, somewhat rude, nature of this story and its illustrations, others will delight in the zany mishaps that a parrot with a knack for imitations can bring to an unsuspecting household.
Meredith Cleversey, a librarian in Cambridge, ON, loves to read, write, and live in a world of pure imagination.
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