Say Something, Perico

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P-p-p-paaak! Perico the parrot has something to say. But when he asks for agua, his new owner brings him to the opera. When he says he feels mal, another new owner takes him to the mall. Will he ever find someone who understands him?

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P-p-p-paaak! Perico the parrot has something to say. But when he asks for agua, his new owner brings him to the opera. When he says he feels mal, another new owner takes him to the mall. Will he ever find someone who understands him?

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
A story about a (quite literally) misunderstood pet store parrot has a lot to say about cultural assumptions and assimilation. Harris (Tally Cat Keeps Track) structures her story over several days, using a repeated format. On the first day, a woman tries to get Perico to say, “Polly wants a cracker.” He can’t, but offers an “agua,” instead, which the storeowner mistakes for “opera.” Won over, the woman takes Perico to the opera that evening, with disastrous results, and returns him to the store. The process repeats, with Perico’s Spanish words misunderstood (“mal” for “mall,” “sí” for “sea”) by potential (but unsatisfied) owners. When a bilingual boy recognizes Perico’s ability, the cycle is broken at last. Rébora’s naïf paintings are bright, friendly, and relaxed, but there’s an undeniable sadness to the story, too, particularly when the adults call Perico “silly” or “dumb” for his inability to speak English, as well as scenes in which he practices English phrases by night in a darkened cage, trying to fit in. The ending, though, makes it clear that Perico’s not just bonito but inteligente, too. Ages 4–8. (Oct.)
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
The pet store clerk tells customers that Perico the parrot can say some words. But when a woman asks him to say, "Polly wants a cracker," all Perico says is, "P-p-p-paaak." Then, noting his empty water dish, he squawks, "Agua!" Thinking he is asking to go to the opera, and being reassured that she can bring him back, the woman takes him there. The noise he makes has her returning him quickly! That night, Perico practices until he can say, "Polly..." But the next customer wants him to say something else. And so it goes: poor Perico learns a new sentence each day, his words are misunderstood by the following customer, and each owner returns him to the store due to the miscommunication. Finally, a young boy enters the store. When Perico talks in Spanish, the boy realizes that Perico speaks two languages, just like him. He has found his perfect pet, and Perico has a home at last. The actors in the illustrations of this absurd story are broadly and loosely painted, filling single and double pages with comic effect. The front end pages show the pet shop with Perico in his cage; on the back pages, his cage is empty. A list of the included Spanish words, their pronunciation, and their meanings encourages practice in Spanish. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
Kirkus Reviews

Bored with a parrot's life in a pet store, Spanish-speaking Perico wants a permanent home.

The pet store man assures a female customer that Perico "can saysomewords." After the birds's unsuccessful attempt at "Polly wants a cracker," though, the woman turns to leave in disgust. Perceptive readers may notice that Perico squawks "Agua!" to call attention to his empty water dish. The pet store man convinces the female customer that Perico is attempting to say the word "opera," and she buys the bird. Things don't go well when she takes Perico to the opera that evening, and she returns him. The pet store man tells Perico that he'll have to learn some phrases if he wants a new home, giving him "I am fine today" as an example. The bird stays up that night practicing the phrase. After two other failed attempts, a little Latino boy and his mother visit the store, and Perico uses all of his new phrases to impress the boy. The boy ignores the bird completely until Perico starts squawking in fluent Spanish. The bilingual boy immediately wants the bird, who speaks Spanish and English just as he does. Rébora's humorous illustrations and the happy ending help balance the mostly clueless, often rude adults in the book.

A welcome, if a little long, tale of belonging and bilingualism. (Spanish glossary)(Picture book. 4-8)

School Library Journal
K-Gr 2—Perico is a parrot in a pet store with a lot to say. Unfortunately for his clueless and English-speaking prospective owners, everything he has to say is in Spanish. It isn't until a bilingual family finds him that they realize just how clever he really is. Perico shows a wide range of emotions, and Rébora's illustrations are bright and animated, reflecting the bird's ups and downs. While the story is ultimately about cultural differences and celebrates Perico's language abilities, there is also a dark side to it as ignorant adults acquire and return a pet for its inability to meet their expectations. However, the upbeat ending and a personality-packed parrot will delight youngsters. A glossary of Spanish words offers help for readers who don't speak Perico's language.—Sarah Townsend, Norfolk Public Library, VA
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780761352310
  • Publisher: Lerner Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 10/28/2011
  • Series: Millbrook Picture Books Series
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 4 - 7 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.54 (w) x 11.33 (h) x 0.34 (d)

Meet the Author

Trudy Harris writes books that both educate and entertain. She has written a number of successful math concept books, including: Pattern Bugs, 20 Hungry Piggies, Jenny Found a Penny, The Clock Struck One, and Tally Cat Keeps Track. Trudy loves reading picture books to her grandchildren and to her students at Temple View Elementary in Idaho Falls, Idaho.

Cecilia Rébora studied Illustration at the Jopes Serra I Abella school of arts aplicades in Barcelona, Spain. She worked for the interactive children's museum of Guadalajara for a year, and since 2001 she has been working as a freelance children's illustrator. Cecilia has published approximately 30 books in Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, Korea, and United States. She divides her time doing the two things she loves most in life—playing with her two babies, Mateo and Ines, and illustrating children's books!

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 15, 2013

    This book would be useful for students who are not native speake

    This book would be useful for students who are not native speakers in the classroom. It may give them a confidence boost and a good laugh on the side. Great illustrations and story line. Every student can take something away from it! 

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