Say Something, Perico

Trudy Harris, illus. by Cecilia Rébora. Lerner/Millbrook, $16.95 (32p) ISBN 978-0-7613-5231-0
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.)
Reviewed on: 09/12/2011
Release date: 10/01/2011
Portable Document Format (PDF) - 32 pages - 978-0-7613-8046-7
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