It's been a very hot and humid day. Our A/C is on and so is my oven. Please don't tell National Grid (shouldn't I be conserving?). The oven's purpose? To bake Aster's Chips+Chips cookies.
So many good books are coming out this fall and Strange Birds: A Field Guide to Ruffling Feathers by Celia C. Perez is one of them. Four different girls with four different backgrounds in a tree house in Florida ruffling feathers literally and figuratively.
There's Ofelia Castillo, the journalist, who just wants support and permission to apply to the four week Qwerty Sholes contest that would land her a 4-week internship in New York City.
There's Cat Garcia, a bird watcher who just quit the Floras, unbeknownst to her mother. Being a Flora has been in Cat's family history for forever and her mother has dreams of Cat becoming Miss Floras. As Miss Floras, Cat would don a hat made "a hundred years ago when...people thought it was okay to kill birds and wear them." Cat is not okay with that.
There's Aster Douglas, a foodie, who lives with her grandfather and is on a mission to uncover the mystery of the Winter Sun orange (and the namesake of our cookies).
And finally Lane DiSanti who is staying in Sabal Palms with her grandmother while her parents figure out the future of their relationship. "All relationships require some kind of agreement." Lane comes from old Florida money and is the one behind bringing the girls together with an intriguing invitation.
This is a story about activism, friendship, standing up for what you believe in and using your voice. Watch out, though, after learning that actions can make a difference, who knows what your middle grade readers will be inspired to do. Strange Birds teaches them that "most things that matter carry some risk" but will be worth it in the end. (and cause for celebration with Aster's cookies, of course--thankfully the recipe is included!)
|Celia with her editor at a Penguin luncheon during ALA. The flamingo and sticky notes are key.|