The Florida town of Sabal Palms is known for few things. Mostly, it’s famous for being home to the rich DiSanti family, who made their fortune from oranges, and the Floras, an uptight club dedicated to helping the community.
Lane DiSanti isn’t interested in the Floras or her family, after being sent to her Florida grandmother while her parents file for a divorce. But she doesn’t want to spend the summer with only the peacocks near her house for company, either.
Ofelia Castillo’s school friends are all gone on vacations, and so she’s left with the prospect of going with her mom to work at the opulent DiSanti mansion. Only one thing keeps her going: a journalism contest which she’s determined to win—if she can just get her overprotective parents to sign the permission form.
Aster Douglas has always been homeschooled by her grandfather; she enjoys baking and frequent trips to the library. But this coming fall, she’ll go to public school for the first time, and she’s certain that she’ll be the only kid in the seventh grade who doesn’t have any friends.
Cat Garcia might belong to the Floras, but she wants no part in the organization; she’d much rather birdwatch and research the Migratory Bird Treaty Act than sell cookies to her neighbors. After she unofficially ditches the Floras, she has to find a way to keep her parents from knowing—and to get rid of the Floras hat, a symbol of the club which is adorned with feathers of endangered species.
When these four outsiders are brought together in an unused treehouse, they form a fast friendship over apricot ladyfingers, the correct terms for peafowl, and superstitions about minerals. Lane, Ofelia, Aster and Cat may not appear to have much in common, but when they begin a shared mission which they’re determined to complete, these four strange birds might just have found a place where they belong.
Strange Birds: A Field Guide to Ruffling Feathers was well-written, engaging, and hilarious. Lane, Ofelia, Aster and Cat, all of whom narrated chapters, were all excellent and distinct. At first, it was a little hard to keep track of them, but it became clear before long. This book felt very authentic, even surrounding the harder parts of each character’s life, which I appreciated. I especially loved the themes of bird protection and civil disobedience; although you can read this seeing those deeper meanings, it’s also good for those who just want a lighthearted, fast-paced novel about summer and friendship. I highly recommend Strange Birds to readers ages ten and up.