Summary: Strange Birds – A Field Guide to Ruffling Feathers
In Strange Birds, four girls form an unlikely friendship that leads to activism. Ofelia Castillo (budding journalist), Aster Douglas (bookish foodie), Cat Garcia (bird aficionado), and Lane DiSanti (artist) are as different as can be. But when the Floras — their local Scout troop — plans to crown its next queen with a hat of feathers, the girls band together to fight for birds.
In addition to their desire to stop the Floras, each of the girls has an individual motive. Aster wants to learn more about her family’s history and perhaps reverse an injustice. Ofelia, on the other hand, is searching for a big story to win a journalism contest. Lane just needs friends. Their antics will push them out of their comfort zones and cause some of them to examine their privilege.
I really loved these girls. To me, that’s the greatest win in this book. It can be tough to create clearly distinguishable characters, especially when you’re narrating from a third-person POV. But author Celia Perez does this easily — and the audiobook narrator reinforces this. By the 10% mark, I could tell when a chapter was about Ophelia or Aster or Cat.
The girls are also just endearing — Aster was my favorite! They all have their own thing, whether it’s cooking or a penchant for stories. Refreshingly, their friendship was free from unnecessary cat-fights and instead they all worked to understand each other despite the differences in race and social status.
This book is also wickedly funny! The girls get up to a lot of mischief and are passionate about their cause. It’s also very outdoorsy — the girls bike around their little town and just spend the summer the way kids should. Still, it’s not all roses and sunshine. Each of these girls deals with different issues, from the death of a parent, to parents separating and divorcing, and parental pressures to succeed.
I also enjoyed how well the author highlights the impact of Lane’s privilege, especially with regards to the consequences of the girls’ actions. And, of course, I loved getting schooled about birds by Cat.
While thoroughly entertaining, I think this book could have been shorter. I felt myself becoming tired of their efforts to get back at the Floras.
Strange Birds: A Field Guide to Ruffling Feathers is an engaging middle-grade novel with memorable, endearing, and passionate protagonists. This book sheds much needed light on bird hunting and its effect on the avian species. It also highlights the importance of standing up for what you believe in. If you like bold, determined heroines, birds, and a good dose of summer mischief and adventure, you’ll enjoy this book!Strange Birds: A Field Guide to Ruffling Feathers is an engaging middle-grade novel with memorable, endearing, and passionate protagonists. This book sheds much needed light on bird hunting and its effect on the avian species. Click To Tweet
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More Middle-Grade Reviews Set in Summer
- Rules of the Ruff by Heidi Lang
- Shouting at the Rain by Lynda Mullaly Hunt
- Emily Out of Focus by Miriam Spitzer Franklin
Have you read this book or anything by Celia Perez? I’ve heard good things about the First Rule of Punk! What’s your favorite bird? I’m obsessed with flamingos.