Always Blue of Chicu tells the story of a wild parrot that is captured by smugglers and is taken to sea by a kind sailor. When the sailor has to return to his ship, he must give Chicu up. Chicu’s life is then spent with a variety of owners who do not know much about providing adequate care for parrots. Students will learn about the complex needs of parrots and the importance of doing research before getting a pet. Making an effort to plan ahead and prepare by doing research is a skill that students can apply to many aspects of their life.
Why use this book?
- Demonstrates an accurate portrayal of what wild birds can experience when taken into captivity (being re-homed, improper care, etc).
- Includes great information at the end of the book on parrots as pets, including their specializes needs.
- Demonstrates the human-animal bond (both strong and weak) and how it can impact the care the bird receives.
Ask your students:
- Why was the sailor permitted to keep Chicu on board the ship?
- Why did Chicu consider the sailor as part of his flock?
- Why didn’t the sailor’s wife want to keep Chicu?
- What was Joel’s motivation for taking Chicu? What was Suzie’s motivation for taking Chicu? Do you think in reality some people choose pets to match their décor or lifestyle?
- Parrots as Pets – As a class, watch the PBS video, Unwanted Pets. Then go over the following discussion questions:
- The video mentions that not everyone is ‘cracked up’ to own a parrot. What does this expression mean? Why do you think this is
- What qualities/ behaviours make a parrot an attractive pet to own? What qualities/ behaviours do parrots exhibit that might make them a difficult pet to care for?
- What happens to parrots when people find they are no longer able to take care of them? Do you think this is similar to other pet species?
- What can people do to be more prepared when welcoming a parrot into their home? Can this be applied to welcoming other types of pets?
- If you are unable to care for your pet anymore, what should you do?
- The video mentions that people commonly surrender their parrots. A reason why people surrender their pet is a lack of knowledge about the animal and underestimating the amount of care the animal requires (time, money, space required etc). Combining information from the video with their own research, have students create a Pet Parrot PSA Poster that includes information people should consider before getting a parrot as a pet. Hang the posters in the classroom or around the school to help spread awareness.
Always Blue for Chicu is part of the AnimalTales program. Above, is a small selection of the discussion questions and activities that can be found in the Grade Five and Grade Six Teacher’s Guide. For additional discussion questions and activities request the FREE book-lending program for your class.
Related Resources to Book:
- World Wildlife Fund has information on wildlife capture and trade including problems associated with it and effects, including indirect harm.
- Companion Bird Care – information for students on how to adequate care for companion birds including videos, fun facts, and a quiz from the New Zealand SPCA