Strange Birds: A Field Guide to Ruffling Feathers

Book review by
Amanda Nojadera, Common Sense Media
Strange Birds: A Field Guide to Ruffling Feathers Book Poster Image
Powerful coming-of-age tale promotes friendship, activism.

Parents say

No reviews yetAdd your rating

Kids say

age 9+
Based on 1 review

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Readers will learn about different approaches to social justice and activism, facts about various birds, the history of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, famous journalists such as Ida B. Wells, Nellie Bly, and Ida Tarbell, and famous activists such as Harriet Hemenway and Minna Hall. There are also DIY activities included at the back of the book for kids after they've finished the story.

Positive Messages

Stand up for what you believe in. Take risks. Learn how to think for yourself. Friendship, courage, perseverance, teamwork are important themes. The story emphasizes the value of truth, kindness, justice, and community.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Ofelia, Cat, Aster, and Lane are great examples of friendship, courage, teamwork, and perseverance. They use their unique talents to support one another and stand up for what they believe in.

Violence

One of the main characters falls and breaks her arm. Characters are almost attacked by a three-legged dog. Ofelia tells the story of Saint Barbara, who was tortured by her father and had her head chopped off because she didn't want to get married or give up her beliefs.

Sex
Language

Mild insults include "weirdo," "heck," "crap." 

Consumerism

Characters talk about an invisible wall that divides the rich and poor sides of town. Aster's grandpa reminds her that she doesn't need to buy new things every year for school. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Mentions of recipes that include cognac and white wine.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Strange Birds: A Field Guide to Ruffling Feathers, by Celia C. Pérez (The First Rule of Punk) is a powerful and thought-provoking coming-of-age story about four girls in a small Florida town who are trying to make a difference in their community by fighting for animal rights. Readers will learn about different approaches to social justice and activism, facts about various birds, the history of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, famous journalists such as Ida B. Wells, Nellie Bly, and Ida Tarbell, and famous activists such as Harriet Hemenway and Minna Hall. There are also DIY activities included at the back of the book for kids after they've finished the story. Friendship, courage, perseverance, and teamwork are important themes, and the young activists are inspired by the truth, kindness, justice, and community. The girls are almost attacked by a three-legged dog. Characters talk about an invisible wall that divides the rich and poor sides of town.

Wondering if Strange Birds: A Field Guide to Ruffling Feathers is OK for your kids?

Set preferences and get age-appropriate recommendations with Common Sense Media Plus. Join now

Continue reading Show less

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

Kid, 11 years old January 28, 2020

I love Strange Birds!

This book was really good. There were a few things that weren't nice though. One of the characters used the word "crap" and believes that stones... Continue reading

What's the story?

STRANGE BIRDS: A FIELD GUIDE TO RUFFLING FEATHERS tells the story of four girls -- aspiring journalist Ofelia Castillo, smart foodie Aster Douglas, passionate birdwatcher Cat Garcia, and artistic rebel Lane DiSanti -- whose lives become connected over the course of one unforgettable summer in Sabal Palms, Florida. Thanks to a mysterious invitation from Lane to join the Ostentation of Others and Outsiders, the girls form an incredible friendship and bond over their mission to get the Floras, the local Scouts, to stop using an old hat made from bird feathers. It'll take lots of teamwork, courage, and perseverance for these young activists to raise awareness about animal rights and bring social change to their community. Will they succeed?

Is it any good?

Kids will love this powerful and thought-provoking coming-of-age tale that promotes friendship and activism. Author Celia C. Pérez seamlessly includes facts about animal rights, famous journalists and activists, and different approaches to activism that will have kids starting to think about which issues they believe in and how they can bring change to their communities. Readers will be captivated by this inspiring story, which is told from each girl’s perspective, and find themselves rooting for these strong, smart, and diverse female characters to succeed.

At times in Strange Birds: A Field Guide to Ruffling Feathers it seems as if the Ostentation of Others and Outsiders' mission is impossible, but the girls' courage, perseverance, and teamwork prove that fighting against injustice is worth the risk.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the call to action presented in Strange Birds: A Field Guide to Ruffling Feathers. What's happening in your school or community that you think is unfair or unjust? What can you do to help?

  • How do the characters demonstrate courage, perseverance, and teamwork? Why are these important character strengths?

  • What did you learn about birds that you didn't know before? Do you look at birds differently after reading Strange Birds

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love coming-of-age stories and tales of activism

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

Top advice and articles

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate