Betty Jean Craige, Professor Emerita of Comparative Literature at the University of Georgia, is now a writer of mysteries and non-fiction. She lives in Athens, Georgia, with Cosmo, her beloved African Grey parrot.
Betty Jean has one forthcoming book: Ruminations on a Parrot Named Cosmo, to be published on April 15, 2021, by Sherman Asher Publishing.
Kirkus says: "A laugh-out-loud funny, informative, and tender read for animal lovers; Cosmo is unforgettable."
RUMINATIONS ON A PARROT NAMED COSMO BY BETTY JEAN CRAIGE ‧ RELEASE DATE: APRIL 15, 2021
Based on two years of columns written for the Athens Banner-Herald, this collection of essays stars Cosmo, a delightfully loquacious African grey parrot with a sense of humor.
Craige, the author of a memoir titled Conversations With Cosmo (2010), purchased the 6-month-old parrot in May 2002 from a pet shop. Bred in captivity, Cosmo had been removed from her parents to acclimate her to life with humans. In December of that year, Cosmo spoke her first word: bird. After a few minutes, she added: “Cosmo is a bird.” A retired professor of comparative literature at the University of Georgia, Craige had long been interested in “how…other species saw the world.” Perhaps an English-speaking parrot could tell her. Make no mistake: Cosmo may have learned to speak by imitating the author’s words, but she quickly began putting that vocabulary to use, forming her own sentences. She enthusiastically echoed all she saw and heard around her. When Cosmo mimicked a siren, Craige realized an emergency vehicle had passed her house. The parrot teased the author by imitating a telephone ring, successfully bringing Craige into her room. Although Cosmo knew the house rules, she sometimes appeared to declare her independence to the author: “Now she is climbing down from the cage and heading toward my bedroom. I beg her, ‘Cosmo, please be a good bird!’ Cosmo answers, ‘Noooo! Cosmo don’t wanna be a good bird. Hehehehe!’ ” Certainly, the most entertaining sections of the essays are the amusing Cosmo anecdotes. But these are also the jumping-off points for intriguing discussions about the behavior of animals and the ways in which many of them—birds, gorillas, chimps, dolphins, whales, and octopuses—communicate with one another. Referencing Cornell University researcher Karl Berg, “who studied green-rumped parrots in Venezuela,” Craige explains that “parrot parents give each” of their chicks an individual “signature call,” or a name. The chicks will then identify themselves by using those calls, not unlike the author’s beloved parrot’s starting most of her sentences with Cosmo. Other chapters in this charming, thought-provoking collection are loaded with factoids and ponder the complex mental lives of Earth’s creatures large and small. They are likely to leave readers questioning many of their preconceptions.
A laugh-out-loud funny, informative, and tender read for animal lovers; Cosmo is unforgettable.