If You Were a Parrot

Feathered Quill Book Reviews - March 28 Spotlight Review

What would it be like if you were a parrot? Would you squawk, chew wood and love to eat popsicles, sticks and all? If You Were A Parrot answers these questions and more as it takes young inquisitive readers on a fun romp into the world of our feathered friends.

Rather than talk about the typical bird ability – you could fly – this book tackles other attributes of birds and shows what it would be like to have that feature. The book opens with: “If you were a parrot, you would have two feet, Just like you do now, but…You would only have four toes on each foot, And two of them would point backwards.” The accompanying picture shows a parrot standing on a dresser, wings outspread, laughing while his adorable young human friend sits on the floor with four-toed feet, with an amazed, and comically, expression.

The following pages show various pet parrots doing what they do best around the house, eating, squawking, splashing in water, and chewing the wooden legs of furniture, all accompanied by children who have grown beaks, feathers, and funny bird feet. If You Were A Parrot offers page after page of funny possibilities for children to imagine.

If You Were A Parrot is beautifully illustrated with vibrantly colored parrots playing with children in all sorts of settings. From climbing a potted fig tree to looking in the bathroom mirror, parrots and children come to life. Indeed, the illustrations are a big part of why this book works so well. As a parrot owner myself, I can attest to the realistic portrayal of the birds. The illustrations capture their personalities perfectly.

At the back of the book is a page “For Creative Minds” with facts about birds, a cut-out beak so young readers can make their own beaks, and finally, a page devoted to “Are you ready for a pet parrot?” In addition, the publisher has set up cross-curricular lesson plans for this and their other books. Visit for more information.

Quill says: If You Were A Parrot will have young children squawking with glee and spouting off parrot facts to their parents

Eclectic Homeschool Online - Sept 2009

If You Were a Parrot written by Katherine Rawson and illustrated by Sherry Rogers is a wonderfully written, educational book for children ages 3 to 8. Do your children want to know what a parrot does all day? Then this book will help to answer those questions by showing children and parents climbing around the house, over furniture, up curtains or eating like a parrot by chewing on a phone book and popsicles with their parrot beak. If your child enjoys birds but doesn't like vegetables then this book may just get them to eat their veggies. The book shows children wearing a beak eating fruits and vegetables before and after squawking, talking, bathing, and going to bed for the night.

After the 'parrots' are tucked in, there is a "for creative minds" section that lists parrot fun facts. Children will find fun facts such as feathers help keep birds warm not just fly, birds do not have teeth, their necks are very flexible and get into just about any space, and many more facts!

The book measures 8.5" by 10" with a dust jacket that has art that matches the cover of the actual book, the size easily allows children to hold the book on their own while turning the pages.

There is a make-a-beak craft, that children with adult supervision can make a beak and pretend to be a parrot just like the children in the story—just don't let them climb the curtains. These last few pages may be photocopied or printed from the website by the owner of the book, which is a nice incentive to purchase this colorful, educational book.
- Sarah Bailey

The Ashley News “Book Talk” with Shirley LaBusier - Dec. 7, 2006

If you were a parrot, you would have two feet, just like you do now, but you would only have four toes on each foot, and two of them would point BACKWARDS! This interesting book is filled with bright, colorful illustrations. It is a delight to read.

Four happy children enjoy fantasy playtime with four silly parrots, who show them how much fun it is to be a parrot. They climb curtains, and eat a popsicle STICK AND ALL! They take a bath in a dish, splashing water everywhere. What fun it is to climb, chew, squawk, and preen.

The wonderful thing about all Arbordale publications is the “For Creative Minds” section in the back of their books. This section may also be downloaded from the ‘If You Were a Parrot’ homepage at This download would be a valuable teaching tool when used by teachers in their classroom.

Like us parrots have backbones. Some of the bones hollow, and lighter, to help them fly. Parrots have beaks that are strong enough to break through hard seeds or nuts. The bottom part of the beak has little ridges to help hold the nuts or seeds while they break them. There are over 300 different types or species of parrots. The very last pages contain “how to make a beak” instructions.

‘If You Were a Parrot’ is colorful, educational, and lots of fun. Your child will love this picture book; it is available at your favorite neighborhood or online bookstore.
- Shirley LaBusier

Wild Bird Crossing in Sturbridge

'If You Were a Parrot’ is a very nicely presented book. I liked that the illustrations were very well done, especially the expressions on the children’s faces. It was a fun book to read. I also thought that the educational aspect of the book was great. This is a perfect book for anyone who is home schooling; the kids will love the interactive adventures of becoming the parrot.
- Nancy Cormier

School Library Journal - December 2006

K-Gr 2–Rawson and Rogers explore the world of parrots in this vibrant celebration of children’s imaginative play. Rogers’s rounded computer-generated illustrations place each fact about these birds squarely in the world of a real child–a girl displays her parrot feet as she plays with her crayons: “If you were a parrot, you would have two feet, just like you do now, but…you would have four toes on each foot, and two of them would point backwards.” A youngster with a parrot beak chews on her colored pencils: “If you were a parrot, you would have a sharp, hooked beak. To keep your beak in shape, you would have to chew things…pencils, wooden spoons, the legs of chairs, and maybe even the entire telephone directory.” The rich colors used in each scene honor the different parrots featured in the book–Nanday conures, Scarlet Macaws, Blue and Gold Macaws, and African Greys–as well as the children’s imaginations. The book concludes with a section of facts about parrots and a pattern for a parrot beak that can be downloaded from the publisher’s Web site. This is a book worth squawking about.
- Kathleen Whalin, York Public Library, ME

CLCD & Children's Literature - November, 2006

An attractive cover consists of children and parrots. The parrots, as well as the children, have beaks! Their smiling, happy faces show that they are having a great time and it encourages the readers to open the book for more fun. A fast-paced humorous text keeps the story moving. Dazzling illustrations help the readers imagine how it would feel to be a parrot and how it would look. Engaging text consists of such concepts of backwards, up, all around, and in and out, to the top. The words are highlighted and have a font set apart from the regular text. This feature makes it easy for readers to read along after going through the book one or two times. Some other highlighted words are squawk, screech, laugh, climbing, chewing, preening. As with all Arbordale books, end material consists of fun facts and a craft (this one is to make a beak). In addition, informative explains the responsibility of owning a parrot. Add this book to all libraries and to your private collection if possible. The material could supplement science or animal classes.
- Nancy Attebury

Kirkus Review - July 1, 2006

Four young children find out what it might be like to have the feet, beak, voice and feathers of a parrot in this delightfully informative up-close look at a favorite friend. With parrot feet, nothing would be out of climbing range since two toes point forward, two backward. A parrot beak is strong and sharp, capable of easily cracking open seeds and nuts; chewing on things helps keep it in shape. Squawks and screeches help communicate joy and anger, while clever parrots can learn to imitate people’s words and environmental sounds (like ringing telephones). Finally, parrots care for their feathers with frequent baths and lots of preening. Roger’s brightly colored illustrations truly put the toes on the other foot, so to speak, showing each child with parrot features and engaging in parrot activities. Backmatter includes more facts about parrots and birds in general, a make-a-beak craft and a page explaining the responsibilities involved in owning a parrot.

Judith Nasse Children's Book Reviews - March 2007

What would it be like if you were a parrot? This enjoyable book tells you just how it would be to be a parrot throughout your day. You would even eat a popsicle, stick and all!

Author Katherine Rawson writes about parrot behavior and preferences in an amusing, informative way. Sherry Rogers' illustrations enhance the text with dramatic scenes showing parrot behavior by painting children with beaks, claws, and the abilities to climb curtains and imitate phones. Young children will have so much fun imitating the parrots and parrot-children in this book. There is even a fact sheet in the back that tells children how to care for a pet parrot. This is a fun book for children ages 4 to 8.
- Judith Nasse

The Old Schoolhouse Magazine - May, 2007

If You Were a Parrot is an adventure story "that will have the reader imagining what life would be like if he or she were a pet parrot." The reader will learn the daily routine of a parrot--climbing, chewing, eating, bathing, and sleeping. The illustrations are of children taking on parrot-like characteristics. Along with the fun story, the author has included two full pages of fun parrot facts, along with a cute craft idea and further information for those who may be considering getting a pet parrot.
- Heidi Strawser

Great Fall Books for Home and School - October, 2006

It's sort of like Kafka's "Metamorphosis," but for kids, and funny, with really beautiful, bright, colorful, kid-friendly illustrations. Okay, the initial illustration of the little girl whose feet were still flesh-colored, but shaped like a parrot's was a tad, um, creepy...definitely an eye-catcher, but the following pages are a hoot. Rawson wraps up this wonderful book for young readers with some suggestions for further imaginative play and learning. A great addition to home and school libraries alike.
- Roxyanne Young, Smart Writers Journal (SWJ) - Aug 2008

Pros: Pretend suggestions, Vocabulary development, Illustrations, Fun Facts

Cons: None

The Bottom Line: If I were a four or five year old, it would be a lot of fun reading this imaginative, fact-filled book with a parrot beak on my nose

If you were a child you could touch your toes, roll over and crawl, be brutally honest, and imagine lots of silly stuff. If you were a child you could imagine you were a parrot.

What could you learn about pretending to be a parrot? Katherine Rawson’s ”If You Were a Parrot” has fun with parrot parts and parrot facts. If you’ve ever watched a parrot you know they have two feet but only eight toes. Did you know that one toe on each foot points backwards?

But, what can you do with those feet? ”With feet like these, you could climb everywhere…up the curtains, all around the bookshelf, in and out of boxes even to the top of a potted fig tree.

What else?

If you were a parrot you would have a sharp beak, you would make lots of noise, and you would love to take baths. That is, if you were a parrot.

You would shower under a spray bottle or take a bath in a dish. You would have so much fun that you would squawk and splash water everywhere.

If you were a child reading this book, you would learn how to say squawk and screech, wanna popsicle, preen and pretty bird. If you were one of the children in this book, you could have fun wearing parrot feet and beaks. Through pretend readers learn about what parrots need, how they behave and what they look like.

This whimsical story is packaged in a brightly illustrated picture book by artist Sherry Rogers. Her creative Photoshop images included scarlet macaws, blue and gold macaws, African grey parrots, and green nanday conures. Full-page images such as a boy with a parrot beak and wings will have all young readers delighted. They will also enjoy the many opportunities to learn new words through repetition.

Author Katherine Rawson used her own green parrot for inspiration in the telling of this informative story.

What do children learn? As with all Arbordale Publishing Books, young readers with creative minds (that’s all young readers) can find a lot of parrot fun facts and adaptations. ”Parrots’ necks are very flexible so they can get their heads into just about anything.”

Instructions and a pattern for a make-a-beak can help everyone color their own. When done, the pretend begins. A final question on the last page asked if you are ready for a pet parrot. Before answering, read through some of the parrot requirements. Do you have the time, a cage or toys? Do you know a Veterinarian who can care for parrots?

Online learning links at include Bird Beaks and Anatomy sources, Photos and Sound Tapes of Parrots, Crafts, Games and Curriculum Ideas, General Parrot Bird Information, and Parrot Adoption Agencies.

Play and imagination are great tools that encourage children's learning. If I were a teacher with pre-school learners, this would be an excellent resource for teaching bird classification, parrot adaptation, and caring for pets. As a teacher I would certainly get the Folkmanis Scarlet Macaw puppet to extend the fun and learning. If I were a four or five year old, it would be a lot of fun reading this with a parrot beak on my nose.

Recommended: Yes

Rutgers University - December, 2006

I seldom write reviews, especially of children's books, but "If You Were a Parrot" is a first class read for children. It is delightfully written, well-illustrated, and captures the minds of children. Most children love birds, and this book lets them think about what a pet parrot does during the day. It lets them imagine life as a parrot trying to cope with some of the same things they themselves do.

I tried the book out on my young nieces, and they loved it. I couldn't get it away from them. They wanted it, and it was a problem that I only had one. Children need more books like this–ones that intrigue them and widen their view of the world.

The section at the end called "For Creative Minds" is especially useful for children who want to learn more, and for parents who want to help them. The facts are interesting and correct. "Are you ready for a parrot?" is especially helpful because it lets children know the difficulties of keeping an intelligent bird in the home. I can't emphasize enough how true it is that parrots require a lot of attention, lots of toys, their loud voices, and their messiness when they eat. Not to mention their habit of chewing on furniture and window ledges. Most people cannot handle a parrot. What the book fails to mention is the long-term commitment. Parrots can live for 70 or 80 years!

Overall, this is a good read for children; they will love the colorful illustrations, and will pick it up again and again.
- Dr. Joanna Burger of Rutgers University, author of The Parrot Who Owns Me

National Parrot Rescue & Preservation Foundation - September 11, 2006

I recently read “If You Were a Parrot” by Katherine Rawson and illustrated by Sherry Rogers and thought it was delightful. I was very impressed by the use of accurate coloration for the different species of parrots used in the book. I also liked the way the author pointed out some of the negative as well as positive aspects of living with a parrot. What an adorable way to teach the joys and responsibilities of parrot ownership. But the true accolades are reserved for the final five pages of the book; with fun facts, crafts, and an ownership guide. What a great way to stimulate and teach young minds at the same time.

I talk about parrots to many different school age children and scout groups in the course of our community outreach programs and I will definitely be recommending this book.
- Diane Starnes, NPRPF Vice-President, Co-director of Education

National Parrot Rescue & Preservation Foundation - September 7, 2006

My first impression upon opening the envelope from Arbordale Publishing containing the book, “If You Were a Parrot” was one of delight. As I read the story of the children acting like a parrot throughout the day by climbing, chewing, squawking, and preening I was touched with the message of the book. The bright colors of the engaging illustrations are entertaining and vividly point out the unique characteristics of parrots without being just “dry facts”. I was drawn to each page by the detail and accuracy of each parrot species.

It is obvious that the author owns a parrot and is quite familiar with their day to day needs, demands and antics. It is important that this is understood at the beginning of a parrot/human relationship in order to continue a lifetime of companionship. By putting the child in the role of the parrot for a day, they are able to better understand just what the parrot does and needs during the day. The “Make a Beak” craft gives the child even more knowledge with an interactive experience and is a clever addition to the book. At the end of the book is “For Creative Minds”. In this section, additional parrot facts, keeping parrots in your home, and conservation are discussed.

I smile when I think of this book knowing that both the author and the artist have done a wonderful job of hooking a child into the interesting and complicated world of companion parrots.

This education will help a child, as an adult, make the right decision to enter into the world of parrot companionship. It also gives the child the information to deal with a parrot that is already a part of their household growing up.
-Cheryl Rose, Secretary & Co-Education Director

Heartland Reviews - July, 2006

This picture book allows a child to explore what it would be like to be a parrot. The illustrations are excellent, showing children with beaks and feathers. In the back material, there are scientific facts about birds in general and parrots specifically. This is a fun book and we rated it a high four hearts.
- Bob Spear

Armchair Interviews

If You Were a Parrot shows children what special traits one would need to be a parrot.

The book was very informative and fun. The illustrations took a child through the transformation of becoming a parrot. Several different species of parrots were featured throughout the book with some generalized facts about all parrots.

There is a short craft section at the end and some informative information about parrots.

This section also helps children understand more about where parrots are found and other facts that can't be demonstrated in the story.

Young children will enjoy the colors and vibrancy of the story.
- by Elysabeth Eldering

Club Mom (A Readable Feast) - July, 17 2006

If You Were a Parrot - Appealing to children 4 to 8 years old, this book asks children to use their imagination in wondering what a pet parrot does all day. Like all books from Arbordale Publishing, The Creative Mind section features a craft, parrot facts, and information to find out if your child is ready for a pet parrot.
- Anne-Marie Nichols

The Virginian-Pilot - May 8, 2007

Take a flight of the imagination and see what it might be like to have parrot feet, a parrot beak or even parrot feathers. Then study the fun facts and adaptations at the back of the book. Follow the directions and use the template to make your very own parrot beak. Last, study the details on keeping a parrot as a pet and decide if you're ready for this responsibility, or if reading about these fascinating birds is enough. A terrific, interactive story with bright, digitally painted artwork.
- Krys Stefansky

A Life in Books - October 2007

We used to vacation with friends who kept an African Grey Parrot as a pet. Ricky was an ornery bugger, refusing most of the time to talk, though we all knew he could. On a good day, and when we least expected it, Ricky would make the sound of a telephone ringing; I fell for it every time.

Perhaps Ricky is the reason I was so enthralled with IF YOU WERE A PARROT. Katherine Rawson’s simple text highlights parrot body parts while Sherry Rogers’s bright illustrations confront readers with compelling “what if” scenarios: What if you had parrot feet? What if you had a parrot beak? The expressive parrots on each spread made me laugh … and think of Ricky. This little picture book explores the relationship between form and function without ever resorting to didactics, and is a fine way for young readers to learn about parrots.
- Loree Griffin Burns

Cheryl Rainfield - January 2008

What would you do if you were a parrot? The children in If You Were a Parrot climb curtains, chew on pencils and spoons, imitate a phone ringing, and have a lot of fun. You will, too, reading this book.

The opening text grabs reader interest by beginning with a surprise--the idea of the reader only having four toes on each foot, and two that would point backwards. I love the playfulness of this, and the way it encourages the reader to use their imagination. The playfulness continues throughout the book.

Rawson gently teaches the reader about parrots, mostly without the reader feeling that they are being taught, because of the child-like playfulness, such as a child climbing the curtains, or enjoying eating a popsicle, stick and all. There is joy in so many of the examples, and fun at imagining doing something that the reader could not and should not do (such as chew through a table leg or successfully immitate a phone ringing so that people think they have to answer it), and this joy and impishness is contagious. Many of the ideas are startling to think of a child doing, which adds to the fun, and brings a freshness to the writing. The examples also give the reader insight into what a parrot might actually do all day.

Expectation is set up after each introductory idea of how the reader could be like a parrot, so that the reader gets to enjoy the idea of what she could do with that trait, but this is not always successful; sometimes the silliest ideas are incorporated into the introductory idea, and sometimes (as with the splashing and preening), there doesn't seem to be any fun or uniqueness to the trait at all. I was looking for a rhythm that wasn't completely there. At times the text moves into what feels like teaching, and then the story becomes slow, or doesn't feel like a story. I would have preferred that the playfulness remain the strongest thread. I also found the mention of a cage off-putting; parrots in their natural environment do not live in cages, and it feels strange to have a child imagine themselves in a cage. However, that does fit a pet parrot. For the most part, this is a very playful, fun book that will stir children's imaginations.

Rogers' (Counting Little Geckos, Burro's Tortillas) vibrant digital illustrations make the book come alive. Characters and objects are painted realistically, and almost look like you can reach out and touch them. Rogers makes great use of shadow and hues, which adds to the at times almost three-dimensional feeling. Bold colors emulate those of parrots and make the illustrations pop.

Rogers captures the feeling of the text and builds on it, adding setting details that enhance the story, such as a young child surrounded by crayons and drawings she's completed, and a beautiful star-and-night blanket that covers the bird cage in the closing spread. The backgrounds fade into the page, with foggy blues and greys, and this makes the children and the parrots burst into the foreground even more. Rogers uses great detail, making the parrots feathers appear to have texture, and folds in clothing appear natural.

Different species of parrots and various ethnicicites of children are represented in the illustrations, which is refreshing. The illustrations use strong body language, adding to the surprise and joy of the text. One thing that sometimes visually threw me were the parrot beaks on the children's faces, instead of children's mouths. They take some getting used to. But once you do, they're fun.

The last few pages after the story include interesting parrot facts, a parrot-related activity (make-a-beak craft), and some things you need to know if you want to have a pet parrot.

This is a book that is playful and fun--a flight into the imagination--while offering a lot of information about parrots. If You Were a Parrot encourages creative thinking and play. Recommended!