I can’t remember where I heard about the book Alex and Me by Irene Pepperberg, but it sounded interesting so I put a hold on the book on CD thinking that I’d listen to it. Well, I can’t remember when I’ve enjoyed a book as much as this one. Part scientific study and part memoir, Alex and Me is also the story of a thirty-year loving relationship that any pet owner would completely understand. As much as Dr. Pepperberg stresses Alex’s accomplishments in the field of animal behavior, she also shows his unique personality while telling anecdotes about her studies with Alex.
Once, when given a piece of apple to eat, Alex would not repeat the word apple. Instead he gave it the name “ban-nerry.” The more the trainers repeated “apple,” the more he replied “ban-nerry.” Finally students figured out that Alex coined the word to describe the red outside skin of an apple and the soft inside of a banana.
Alex often got bored with the repetiveness of his training and would say “want a nut.” He expected to receive one right away. Once when he was repeatedly ignored, he sounded out the word nut–nnn…uuuu….tttt. Again, he amazed his trainers because he actually knew the sounds that made up the word and wasn’t just “parroting” other people’s phrases.
If you liked the story of Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat, you’ll love Alex and Me.