Dale Smith What the Parrot Told Alice

ISBN 13: 9780965145275

What the Parrot Told Alice

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9780965145275: What the Parrot Told Alice
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A young girl'ss view of the world is forever changed when her pet parrot starts talking. This easy-to-read story is about the impact habitat loss and the illegal pet trade have on conservation and the environment. The book shows children how their small voices can become one big voice heard around the world.

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Review:

What the Parrot Told Alice is a remarkable story, founded on fact. It is destined to awaken the conscience of young people to crucial issues of our time, such as habitat destruction and exploitation of wildlife. It deserves to be read (and will be greatly enjoyed) by all thinking people from nine to 90. It is so much more than a children's story -- it is a cry from the heart of one of an increasing band of forward-looking individuals who understand the destruction of the world's resources must be halted quickly, and that this can be done only by educating today's young people.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

(c)1996 by Dale Smith. Reprinted by permission of Deer Creek Publishing.

What the Parrot Told Alice is an engaging story about a curious young girl and a parrot who changes her view of the world. This new book, written for readers between ten and fourteen, delivers a powerful and inspirational message about exotic bird smuggling, conservation and the environment. What the Parrot Told Alice is an effective tool for parents and grandparents who want to instill ethical environmental principles in their children and grandchildren.

The following are the first two chapters of the book.

Chapter One of What the Parrot Told Alice IT WAS THIRTY YEARS AGO TODAY

Bougainville, The Solomon Islands, 1966

As Manao walked from his family's leaf hut at the edge of the jungle to the magician's house at the center of the village, he noticed a cluster of fireflies hovering against the dark forest wall. He looked away quickly, pretending not to notice. To see a cluster of fireflies was bad luck-fireflies meant a bush demon lurked nearby. Though he had never seen a bush demon, or even knew what one looked like, Manao didn't want to find out now. His long legs broke into a trot, and the moist earth was left with impressions of his bare feet. His naked shoulders soon glistened. His necklace of shell beads stuck to his skin and rivulets of sweat coursed through his dense, tightly curled hair and down his brow.

The drums beat louder as he approached the center of the village, echoing the beat of his heart. Fires flickered in the stone pits outside the leaf huts he passed and he called out greetings to his friends as he ran by, but none of them returned his greeting. He knew why, and he didn't the leaf huts he passed and he called out greetings to his friends as he ran by, but none of them returned his greeting. He knew why, and he didn't blame them. He'd made a mistake, and that mistake was why he'd been summoned on this sticky evening to the magician's house.

Like all houses in the village, the magician's was built on pilings, above the ebb and flow of flood waters. Manao climbed the steps and wiped his brow. He wiped his hands on his lap-lap and scratched timidly at the palm thatch wall of the magician's house.

"Come in, Manao," called Yehamu the magician. "I've been expecting you."

Manao drew a deep breath and entered the hut. Yehamu was seated on the floor made of split palm logs. The light from an oil lamp illuminated the long bone that passed through Yehamu's nose and the chalky white lines drawn on his dark forehead and cheeks. It also shone on the stained New York Yankees T-shirt that clung to his body. Yehamu was an old man, the oldest among the Siwai tribe. In the shadows, on a platform against the wall, Manao's mother sat wrapped in a cloak of sorrow.

"Sit," said Yehamu, solemnly gesturing to a mat before him. His tone was neither friendly nor unfriendly, and Manao obeyed.

"Sit," said Yehamu, solemnly gesturing to a mat before him. His tone was neither friendly nor unfriendly, and Manao obeyed.

"You know why you are here?" asked Yehamu.

"Yes," said Manao.

"Tell me," said the magician, "so we both understand."

"I cut down the biggest tree in our forest," said Manao, his eyes cast down. He looked across the dancing flame at the baseball image on Yehamu's shirt and wondered what it meant.

"And why did you do this?" asked Yehamu.

"Because I wanted to make the biggest log drum the village had ever known and present it as a gift to our community," said Manao.

"But you knew it was wrong to take the biggest and oldest tree in our forest, did you not?" said Yehamu.

"Yes," said Manao, meekly.

"Then what is your excuse?" said Yehamu.

"I told you," said Manao. "I wanted to make a gift to our village."

"That is your reason," said the magician, "but what is your excuse?"

"My excuse?" said Manao, shaking his head. "I guess I don't have one."

"I agree," said Yehamu. "You may have a reason, but you are without an excuse."

Manao and Yehamu sat in silence while the magician's words settled over the boy. Then Yehamu said, "This is the twelfth year of your life, Manao. By now you should know the balance that exists between our people and the forest which gives us life. This knowledge should be a part of you. You should know better than to take the biggest, or oldest, or most fertile, or most beautiful of the bounty which surrounds us, should you not, Manao?"

"Yes," said Manao. "I should."

"Yet you have demonstrated by your actions that you do not," said Yehamu.

In the shadows, Manao's mother began to weep. Her tears ran down her creased cheeks like rain spilling down a leaf in the forest.

"There is an important lesson you must learn, Manao," said Yehamu, gravely. "I must teach you what you have failed to learn from your elders, and what you have been unable to observe on your own." "What will you do to me?" asked Manao, wide-eyed, staring at his own reflection in the magician's eyes.

"Your spirit will inhabit the body of a forest dweller," said the magician.

"A forest dweller?" said Manao.

"A bird, Manao," said Yehamu. "A parrot."

"A parrot?" said Manao.

"You will become a parrot and you will learn to see the world through the eyes of a parrot," said the magician.

"No," moaned Manao's mother, unable to keep silent any longer. "He is my child! I suckled him! Do not change him just because you can!"

"You will have the gift of language," Yehamu continued, ignoring the pleas of the woman. "Just as the parrot speaks in many tongues, so shall you. You will be able to speak from the silence of your mind, and your words will be illuminated by the illusion of your presence, but this gift will have its limitations."

"Limitations?" said Manao.

"You will be able to exchange thoughts with a human being, but only

"Limitations?" said Manao.

"You will be able to exchange thoughts with a human being, but only one human being, so your choice must be a wise one," said the magician. "The human you choose must be sensitive to your message and understand the importance of sharing it with others."

"My message?" asked Manao.

"The message of balance and harmony that must exist between humans and the wild world," said Yehamu. "Do you understand what you must do, Manao?"

Manao drew a deep breath. "I think so," he said. "But how will I know the right person to choose?"

"That will become clear to you," said Yehamu. "But you might consider a child."

"A child?" said Manao.

"Everyone has a future, but the future extends deeper into time for a child than it does for a man my age, or a woman like your mother. A child will have more opportunities to pass the message along to future generations."

Manao felt suddenly overwhelmed by his burden. "But will I ever be free again? Will I ever be Manao, like I am now?"

"You will be a parrot, Manao. The experiences of a parrot and the knowledge gained through those experiences will be yours to share. When you have passed the gift of awareness to a human being who will make a difference in the world-only then will you be free."

"Free to be Manao again?"

"Free to be free," said the magician.

"But will I be me again?" said Manao.

The magician looked at Manao and lit his pipe and drew the smoke deep into his lungs. "That's up to you. You will become whoever you are," said the magician, and Manao thought he saw the old man wink.

A spark from the wick of the oil lamp spiraled toward the thatched roof. As his eyes followed the spark, the light in Manao's eyes left him and joined the spark in a bright union. A draft carried the light through the door and into the night where it landed on the wings of a moth resting on the thatched roof. The moth began to glow like an ember then flew into the forest where it was swallowed by darkness. And everywhere was the on the thatched roof. The moth began to glow like an ember then flew into the forest where it was swallowed by darkness. And everywhere was the insistent beating of drums.

At that exact moment, in a nest in the hollow of a dead tree in the forest, a fine web of lines appeared on the surface of an egg and a featherless, blind parrot pushed its way into the world.

Chapter 2 of What the Parrot Told Alice

YOUR VOICE IN MY HEAD

The Lost Coast, California, 1996 The wind whispered beneath the raven's wings like a secret. As far as his sharp eyes could see stood stands of trees and the rolling unfenced meadows of California's Lost Coast. As an updraft carried him higher, he watched his own shadow rise and fall over the landscape.

Far below, a herd of deer grazing in a dew-sparkling field cast long shadows in the morning light. The raven's shadow passed over mallards and canvasbacks at rest on a muddy half-full pond, its surface smooth and dull as an unwashed window. Chocolate-colored curls of mud at the edge of and canvasbacks at rest on a muddy half-full pond, its surface smooth and dull as an unwashed window. Chocolate-colored curls of mud at the edge of the pond were reminders of a long rainless summer. Beneath the trees and across open flats, dirt roads crisscrossed the hills, ending at an old farm, or ranch, or a modern homestead with solar panels glinting in the sun. The raven banked left and just for a moment followed a pickup truck speeding along the road below. Its tires kicked up dusty clouds that settled on the tangled blackberry bushes.

This morning, the raven's goal was a familiar walnut tree at the edge of a meadow. Most of the leaves on the tree were still green and glossy, but a recent cold spell had turned the leaves along one branch a crisp yellow, and they turned and twisted in the faint breeze like a school of tropical fish riding a current.

By late summer the walnut pods hung cracked and available all over the tree. The wrinkled, brain-textured nutmeats inside made sweet food for a raven with patience and skill. Dropping down and swooping between the tall fir trees, the raven extended his claws and landed on the branch with the yellowing leaves. His silky black wings wrapped his shadowless body like a perfectly tailored cape as he rode the bobbing limb. He announced the yellowing leaves. His silky black wings wrapped his shadowless body like a perfectly tailored cape as he rode the bobbing limb. He announced his arrival with a rough, throaty call that echoed through the surrounding dark forest.

Hungrily, the raven ripped a walnut pod from its stem, then glided effortlessly to a spot in the meadow. He dropped the pod on the dry grass and, using his beak, dug a shallow cavity in the soft earth to steady the pod. Cocking his head, he studied the pod to make certain it would not roll on the slight downward slope. He raised his head and began to strike the pod with the chisel of his closed beak with the steady rhythm of a metronome. Chips of tough green husk flew into the air as he drove the pod into the soft soil.

Nestled into the hillside near the walnut tree stood a house with large picture windows and views of the meadow and surrounding forest. At the meadow's far edge, where the land flattened out, lay a garden and orchard. The curling leaves on the plum, peach, pear and apple trees were every shade and mottled pattern of yellow, red, orange and purple. A rickety eight-foot fence surrounded the orchard and garden to keep out the deer. Beyond the garden was the edge of the forest, a diverse tangle of rickety eight-foot fence surrounded the orchard and garden to keep out the deer. Beyond the garden was the edge of the forest, a diverse tangle of madrone, fir, tan oak, and an occasional bay laurel, which the locals called pepperwood. The coast mountains, rising and falling like earthen waves all the way to the sea, were visible between the spires of fir. As they receded from the house, the ridges became lighter and lighter and the last ridge, on this particular morning, was a pale wash of periwinkle blue.

The raven didn't know it, but he was watched from within the house by a small green parrot and a twelve-year-old girl, whose name was Alice.

What must he weigh? the parrot wondered as he shuffled back and forth along his perch on top of his living room cage. A couple of pounds at least...certainly more than a chicken. And his wing span's got to be three feet, maybe more. He's so shiny, so black, so alluring in his stark simplicity. And his tail, what happened to his tail? He's missing a feather or two from the center of his tail. How did that happen? wondered the parrot. A fox? A mountain lion? A bad landing?

Of all the birds that lived in the hills-the thrushes, jays, owls, hawks and kites, the quail, the woodpeckers and flickers, the chickadees, juncos, wrens and nuthatches-the raven was the most talented. He was intelligent in a way that only birds can express. And there was no denying his cleverness. You wouldn't see a thrush or a flicker bury a walnut, the parrot mused. The raven seemed to know there was a future, and it needed to be prepared for. There was no doubt in the parrot's mind that the raven was the indisputable king of the local sky.

When the raven's beak broke through the rock hard shell, he cocked his head and let out a triumphant caw-caw-caw which drowned out the melodic trills and whistles of the songbirds and caused the parrot to wince. As much as he admired the raven, the parrot was jealous of him, too. The raven's confident call and swift, precise flight reminded the parrot of who he was, and was not.

You're just a bat with feathers, thought the parrot with jealous disgust. Nothing but an overgrown, tarred and feathered chicken.

Alice, an only child, was a tall girl with flaxen hair, olive brown eyes, and a splatter of freckles across her nose. During the school year she lived with her father on forty acres of wilderness. Most mornings she watched the raven's antics while she waited for her ride to school. This morning she pressed her forehead against the sliding glass door and thought, "That raven's such an amazing bird."

The parrot looked up from his feed cup and cocked his densely feathered green head. What was that? he thought. He had heard something, a sucking sound, like a tire rolling through soft mud. Weird, he mused, eyeing Alice suspiciously over the curve of his beak and going a little cross-eyed in the process. That's the strangest thing I've ever heard.

"I wonder why he's burying all those walnuts?" thought Alice.

The parrot squawked loudly and nearly tumbled from his perch. This time the words that formed Alice's thought had appeared in his mind's eye like chalk marks on a blackboard. It gave him the willies. Those couldn't be Alice's thoughts, could they? he wondered. Parrots don't hear humans' thoughts. A bit unnerved, he returned to his breakfast.

"Maybe my dad knows why he's doing that," thought Alice.

The parrot's head popped out of his feed cup like a tightly sprung jack-in-the-box. This time there was no mistaking it. Alice's thought had flo...

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