The Amazing Life of Birds -- (The twenty-day puberty journal of Duane Homer Leech)

Common Sense Media says

Puberty isn't for wimps -- tweens and up.





What parents need to know

Positive messages
Not applicable
Not applicable

For a book about puberty, surprisingly little, and what is referred to is delicately oblique. A mention of examining the reproductive organs of a dead cat in science class.


One use of "ass," used to mean acting foolishly.


A fast food chain is mentioned.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that, for a book about puberty, this has surprisingly little problematic content, and the subject is handled with delicacy and humor.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

Duane Homer Leech, unfortunately better known as Doo-Doo, is hitting puberty like a brick wall. His face is erupting, his limbs seem to have developed minds of their own, when girls are present his mouth gets stuck either on pause or fast-forward, and visions of, umm, ELBOWS (his all-purpose euphemism for bad language and pretty much any female body part that isn't an elbow) keep floating into his mind at the most inopportune times. \"All systems in full malfunction.\"

Meanwhile, outside on his windowsill, a bird has built a nest and is raising a chick. So as his life deteriorates, Duane starts a journal to keep track of both his own changes and those of the baby bird. Could there be a connection?

Is it any good?


If only all adolescents could be as light-hearted and fatalistic about the mess they're enduring as Duane, the narrator and main character. Suffering embarrassments and humiliations that would strain the self-confidence of a reality-show contestant, and getting little help from family or friends, Duane soldiers on with wit and a good heart.

Author Gary Paulsen maintains a light touch, doing no more than hint at some of Duane's problems and using witty euphemisms and circumlocutions for anything that Duane doesn't really want to talk about. Unfortunately his touch is not so light when it comes to slapstick -- it's funny, but ultimately strains credulity. Still, for kids who are in the throes of change, this might help lighten the mood.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the changes that your kids are, or soon will be, going through. Is this an accurate depiction of how you feel and what you're experiencing? Is the narrator's humor and fatalism realistic, or does it seem harder for you than for him? Are there ways it can be made easier?

Book details

Author:Gary Paulsen
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Random House
Publication date:June 18, 2006
Number of pages:84
Read aloud:10
Read alone:10

This review of The Amazing Life of Birds -- (The twenty-day puberty journal of Duane Homer Leech) was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Parent Written byTaylor13579 November 1, 2011


it got my kid to ask questions about stuff
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Kid, 10 years old March 25, 2010

Dirty book, dirty book

B.A.D! I dont wanna get my growth spurt
What other families should know
Too much swearing


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