So first of all, why do we call parrots Polly, and why are crackers associated with them?
It seems that as far back as Ben Jonson (17th century) or even before, there were literary references to parrots being named Poll or Polly. That name is a derivative from Moll, or Molly, in turn an abbreviated or alternative form of Mary, which was just a hugely common name and also one give to parrots generally. But asking “Mary want a muffin?” while alliterative, does not seem to carry the same feeling!
So why the crackers? Apparently this can be traced, if you believe Google, to the fact that parrots were common on board ships, and biscuits (hard tack) were a staple in the diet of sailors, so they’d get offered to parrots.
Well, there you are. It’s one explanation. Parrots, as we know, are amazing imitators of sounds including human speech, and are apparently smart enough – at least in one case – to differentiate between asking for morning and afternoon tea at the appropriate time of day.
Now, our Polly absolutely does not want crackers and is so forceful in her refusals that she is turned out of her own home. Okay, she lived in the zoo and the keeper thought she was just too rude to be kept on. So, she’s sent off to a pet shop. This did not go so well, as every visitor asked Polly the same silly question, and she responded in her normal way, at the same time terrifying all the small animals waiting to be chosen for their ‘forever homes’.
Now, I won’t give all the story away; you need to do some reading for yourselves!
The illustrations, also by Stephanie Thatcher, are delightful; who knew you could put an expression on a kitten’s face (which is about the size of an old threepenny bit)? Stephanie can!
It’s a lovely book which I think will delight readers of all ages.
Reviewed by Sue Esterman
Polly does NOT want a cracker!
by Stephanie Thatcher
Published by Upstart Press