Sunday, September 15, 2019

Strange Birds: A Field Guide to Ruffling Feathers

PĂ©rez, Celia C. Strange Birds: A Field Guide to Ruffling Feathers 
September 3rd 2019 by Kokila
E ARC from Edelweiss Plus

When Lane DiSanti has to move from London to Sabal Palms, Florida to stay with her grandmother while her parents are divorcing, she isn't sure how to make friends. She leaves invitations to the Ostentation of Outsiders and Others in library books at the local library, and draws three girls to her meeting; Ofelia, whose mother is working for Mrs. DiSanti, Aster, who loves to cook, and Cat, who is very interested in birds. Cat is a member of a local girls' group, the Floras, who sell brownies and have a competition for Miss Flora. Cat is appalled that the hat the winner wears includes egret and flamingo feathers, but when she voices her concern to the leader that the hat shouldn't be used, she is ignored. She stops going to the group and enlists Lane and the others in her attempts to tell the community about the unfairness of the hat and have it relegated to a museum. Aster's grandfather, the first African American professor at the local university, teachers Aster that activism is sometimes necessary to right wrongs, but it can be difficult. He is researching the history of the DiSanti family's Winter Sun oranges, which may actually have been brought to the US and made into the family's signature Winter Sun pie by an African American family that has been ignored by history. All of her attempts backfire (putting Lane's stickers around as protest, installing flamingos on the leaders lawn, writing letters to the editor), so the girls decide to steal the hat. This doesn't go well, but it does get everyone concerned to listen to the girls. Mrs. DiSanti, who is also influential in the Floras, finally gets involved, helps the girls come up with a constructive solution, and is even amenable to the attempts to establish the true developer of the family's signature fruit.
Strengths: It's always good to read about young people who have a passion for something, and any book that involves tweens biking around town is always great. There are some important lessons about how to make and maintain friendships that will speak to young readers. The Florida setting is very vivid and well drawn, and there's a lot of information about birds. Aster's recipes are fun to read-- I may have to make the Chip-Chip Cookies with chocolate chips and potato chips! (Recipe included.)
Weaknesses: This was on the long side, and was rather slow going at many points.
What I really think: There have  been a number of books recently with birding and/or bird preservation as the main theme, and they have not circulated at all well in my library. I will probably pass on this title, especially since I can't get The First Rule of Punk to circulate, even though I really liked that one.

No comments:

Post a Comment