Tickled Pink: Prof Turns Flamingo Research into Children’s Book
Friday, December 6, 2013
Psychologist Matthew Anderson, Ph.D., can give you plenty of reasons why the study of flamingos is relevant to his field and to understanding other species — humans included. His research on the iconic bird has been published in Journal of Ornithology, Laterality: Asymmetries of Body, Brain and Cognition and many other peer-reviewed journals. He is one of a few psychologists in the world who has studied flamingos, seeking answers to questions such as, “Why do flamingos stand on one leg?,” and “Do the ways in which they rest their necks say something about aggression?”
After many years of research, Anderson has decided to revisit what started his love affair with flamingos in the first place: child-like fascination.
A departure from his typical academic approach to flamingos, Anderson has completed a children’s book, which he both authored and illustrated, titled Pink Flamingos All Around. The book was released by Speckled Egg Press (an imprint of Sunbury Press) this month.
“I have been studying flamingos for some time and have always been quite taken by both their beauty and their unique nature,” says Anderson, associate professor of psychology and director of the animal studies program at SJU. “Simply put, they are terribly interesting animals, and I've tried to capture some of that in my book.”
Anderson, along with several SJU students, has conducted extensive research at the Philadelphia Zoo’s Caribbean Flamingo exhibit, says that watching children admire the birds provided him with inspiration for Pink Flamingos All Around.
“I've greatly enjoyed watching the reactions of the zoo-going public to flamingos,” he explains. “Children, in particular, are quite excited to see the big pink birds, which are often standing quite near to the fence, making them highly visible within the exhibit. I dedicated this book to my own children who greatly enjoy the zoo, and who share some of my flamingo-related enthusiasm.”
Pink Flamingos All Around is a light-hearted rhyming read. Not surprisingly, the book pays homage to Anderson’s scholarly endeavors by adding education to entertainment.
“I designed the book to be for both children and their parents,” says Anderson. “I hope that children take away a greater knowledge and appreciation of these amazing animals and that they also have a few giggles in the process.”