The Amazing Life of Birds: The Twenty-Day Puberty Journal of Duane Homer Leech

Book review by
Matt Berman, Common Sense Media
The Amazing Life of Birds: The Twenty-Day Puberty Journal of Duane Homer Leech Book Poster Image
Puberty isn't for wimps -- tweens and up.

Parents say

age 9+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 17+
Based on 1 review

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

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

What 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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byTaylor13579 November 1, 2011


it got my kid to ask questions about stuff
Kid, 10 years old March 25, 2010

Dirty book, dirty book

B.A.D! I dont wanna get my growth spurt

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.

Talk to your kids 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

Our editors recommend

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