Title: Strange Birds: A field guide to Ruffling Feathers
Author: Celia C. Perez
Publication date: September 3rd 2019
Genres: Middle Grade Fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Photo Credit; Penguin Random House
*I received a free copy from the from Kokila [Penguin Random House in exchange for an honest review. These are my own thoughts and have not been influenced by anyone*
From the award-winning author of The First Rule of Punk comes the story of four kids who form an alternative Scout troop that shakes up their sleepy Florida town.
“Writing with wry restraint that’s reminiscent of Kate DiCamillo… a beautiful tale of the value of friendship against unconquerable odds.” –Kirkus Reviews (starred review!)
When three very different girls find a mysterious invitation to a lavish mansion, the promise of adventure and mischief is too intriguing to pass up.
Ofelia Castillo (a budding journalist), Aster Douglas (a bookish foodie), and Cat Garcia (a rule-abiding birdwatcher) meet the kid behind the invite, Lane DiSanti, and it isn’t love at first sight. But they soon bond over a shared mission to get the Floras, their local Scouts, to ditch an outdated tradition. In their quest for justice, independence, and an unforgettable summer, the girls form their own troop and find something they didn’t know they needed: sisterhood.
This book was a delight to read. Strange Birds: A Field Guide to Ruffling Feathers follows the story of four young girls who together learn that their individuality is something they can be proud of. It all beings with Lane DiSanti, granddaughter of Mrs. DiSanti plants invitation to her meeting. The invitations bring together three other girls, Ofelia, Cat and Aster. Together they create their alternative troop, where their main goal is to let their community know that the coveted Miss Floras competition winner hat is made with the feathers of endangered birds. It’s a story will with young girls passionate about a cause, ready to lead us on that adventure while hoping they get their goal accomplished.
Each main character is so unique and compliment each other in the story. Each main character also had some purpose in overall scheme of things. Ofelia, a budding journalist in search of the next great story had a curiosity about her that added the great tidbits of ‘what will happen next’ much more filled with anticipation than i expected. Cat, a member of the Floras and fan of birds and bird watching brings the concern that sets the girls journey. Her determination is such a crucial part in why the girls did not give up. Aster, a true activist at heart learns from her grandfather that fighting the good fight can take time. There was this natural awareness I felt form Aster’s character which allowed me to feel that she was a good balance in the group. Lane, the gril who created it all, was such a gem in the book. She went against the odds of her family’s tradition to truly fight for awareness and that perseverance and ambition is something you don’t always see in a book and something that I truly appreciated. All four girls brought such a diverse wave of walks of life.
The plot was overall an adventure, with natural developing friendships, a powerful message to never give up, no matter the odds, and a story full of intrigue and wonder. It is an empowering read that I would recommend to any young middle grader.
About the Author
Celia C. Pérez is the author of The First Rule of Punk, a 2018 Pura Belpré Author Honor Book, a 2018 Tomás Rivera Mexican American Children’s Book Award Winner, and a 2018 Boston Globe-Horn Book Fiction and Poetry Honor Book. She lives in Chicago with her family where, in addition to writing books about lovable weirdos and outsiders, she works as a librarian. She is originally from Miami, Florida, where roosters and peacocks really do wander the streets. Visit her at celiacperez.com.