Friday, September 6, 2019

Blog Tour: Strange Birds: A Field Guide to Ruffling Feathers by Celia C. Pérez

For Ofelia Castillo, summer in Sabal Palms, Florida means writing and submitting a winning story to the Qwerty Sholes Journalism Contest. Winners get to spend a week in NYC at journalism camp. All she has to do is find a great story and convince her overly-protective parents to sign the application form.

For Lane DiSanti, summer in Sabal Palms, Florida means living on her grandmother's estate while her parents get divorced, avoiding their phone calls, and not doing any of the things that her grandmother suggests, including joining The Floras, a local scout-type troop for girls under the leadership of Mrs. McAllister. But after reading her grandmother's old copy of The Floras: A Handbook for Sabal Palms Girls, Lane knows exactly how she wants to spend the summer.

For Aster Douglas, summer in Sabal Palms, Florida means helping her grandfather, Sabal Palms University's first Black professor, with research for his family history book about the earliest Bahamian Douglas settlers in Sabal Palms, and cooking new recipes and old favorites for him, while her mother is deployed in Japan.

For Catarina 'Cat' Garcia, summer in Sabal Palms, Florida means Floras meeting, working on the Floras' summer volunteer project, participating in the Floras Centennial and competing be to named Miss Floras, something Cat couldn't care less about but she knows her mother desperately wants it. But Cat would rather spend her summer birdwatching an listening to their song.

But summer suddenly changes when Ofelia, Aster, and Cat receive mysterious invitations to meet at the tree house on the DiSanti estate. After reading The Floras handbook, Lane has decided to begin her own (secret) troop with three girls she doesn't know and who don't know each other, and call it The Ostentation of Others and Outsiders. At first, the girls don't get along very well, and yet, the group does begin to jell once they have a mission. And that mission is to get the Floras to stop using its official hat, adorned with the decorative feathers from endangered birds, and worn by the girl who wins the Miss Floras competition at summer's end. Needless to say, adventures ensue.

Pérez has brought together four diverse girls, each with her own particular talent that lends to the story perfectly, given them a goal and set them free from the lonely, boring summer they thought they would be having. As the girls get to know each other, readers see how their friendship and camaraderie evolves; at first, despite their different personalities, and then, because of them, as they learn to work together to accomplish their mission.

Themes that are explored in Strange Birds are collective power, kids making a difference, animal rights, statue quo and systemic racism, and dealing with casual acceptance past wrongs and how "ruffling feathers" can bring attention and possible solutions to them.

Pérez has created such believable characters that I felt like I really knew them. The story, though well-written, does get off to a somewhat slow start, but once the girls come together that really changes and the book becomes a real page turner.

Fun back matter consists of The Ostentation of Others and Outsiders, A Handbook that consists of Cat's Tips for Beginning Birders, Lane's Crystals for Everyday Use, Aster's Chips + Chips Cookies (which sound delicious), and Ofelia's Guide to Writing What You See, and instructions for DYI Badges (after all, if you're going to have a troop, secret or otherwise, you need badges).

Strange Birds is a book that is sure to become a favorite, and I can't recommend it highly enough.

This book is recommended for readers age 9+
This book was sent to me by the publisher, Kokila, an imprint of Penguin Random House

Meet 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

Week One
August 27 – The Novel Hermit
August 28 – Books 4 Your Kids 
August 29 – The Young Folks 
August 30 – A Bronx Latina Reads 

Week Two
September 3 – The Geeky Yogi 
September 4 – Lost in Storyland
September 5 – Book Fidelity 
September 6 – Randomly Reading

Be sure to check out the other Marvelous Middle Grade Monday offerings, now being carried on by Greg at Always in the Middle. 


  1. I love the possibilities for this plot. I'll be tracking down a copy as it looks like a great read for the upcoming Fall season. I know many kids who would enjoy this one, too. Thanks for featuring on today's MMGM.

  2. This book intrigues me and like Greg, I see so many possibilities. I enjoyed reading a bit about each character and wonder what will happen when the join forces. Great review.

  3. This sounds like a terrific premise for a book. I love that the girls are driven by doing important work to save the birds. I will check this out. Thanks for the review.


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