Written by Kathleen O’Dell
Julie Albright is ecstatic about spending spring break with her dad. Though Julie doesn’t live far from her dad, in an apartment she shares with her older sister and mother, Julie only sees her dad every other weekend. And a week spent with her dad means she’ll also get to see her best friend, Ivy, just before Ivy’s family leaves for a wedding. Ivy asks Julie to pet sit her uncle’s talking parrot while the Lings are away, and Julie happily accepts.
But only a short time after beginning her job as pet sitter, Julie realizes that Lucy, the talking parrot, has vanished from her cage! Who has taken Lucy, and why?
The more Julie investigates and attempts to solve the mystery, the more suspects Julie places on her list of “would-be” thieves. Did elderly, sometimes-grouchy Mr. Shackley rid of the noisy parrot? Did her friend and former classmate, Gordon, snitch the bird? Was her Aunt Maia the culprit? Was Mrs. Marino, Gordon’s mom hiding something? Could Pirate Pete, the pet store owner, be involved? Or had Uncle Lee kidnapped his own bird?
The author does an exceptional job of keeping readers engrossed in the mystery and guessing about the mishap of Lucy until the very end of the story. All ends well, and Lucy is safely returned to her owner.
An additional part of the book, a “Looking Back” section with photographs, discusses the wild parrots of Telegraph Hill, one of the San Francisco locations mentioned in the fictional story of Julie and Lucy and also elaborates on the height of the vegetarianism movement of the 1970s.
This fourth grade level story would be especially beneficial to children who are going through or have gone through a family divorce. In the American Girl collection of books, Julie is currently the only Historical Character to be released with divorced parents, and the story touches on Julie’s parents, who have been divorced a couple of years, as well as her friend Gordon’s parents, who are in the process of divorcing.
An informative website that would enhance science and reading activities relating to the story can be found at www.parrots.org. A plethora of information about almost 400 parrots, including photographs, is available under the “encyclopedia” tab.