A beautiful tale of the value of friendship against unconquerable odds.

STRANGE BIRDS

A FIELD GUIDE TO RUFFLING FEATHERS

A quartet of mismatched girls find themselves united for unforgettable summer adventures.

Lane DiSanti wants to avoid boredom during her summer at Sabal Palms. Her grandmother, Mrs. DiSanti, wants her to join the Floras, a beauty pageant/girls club Mrs. DiSanti’s family helped found. Instead, Lane forms the Ostentation of Others and Outsiders, her own version of the Floras, by leaving secret messages for potential friends to find. At first, rebel/artist Lane, foodie Aster Douglas, aspiring-journalist Ofelia Castillo, and bird-watcher Cat Garcia cannot seem to find common ground. However, Cat, a Floras defector, informs them the ancient hat used to crown the Miss Floras is made of real bird feathers. Finally united, the quartet of strange birds begins campaigning to get the Floras’ leader to stop using the hat. Their plans backfire one after the other as the Miss Floras pageant grows closer. Soon, the Ostentation must choose to either give up the fight or escalate their efforts. Shifting perspective girl by girl and writing with wry restraint that’s reminiscent of Kate DiCamillo, Pérez doesn’t shy away from acknowledging that the consequences might not be equal for each girl, as they differ in background—Lane presents white, Aster is Bahamian, and Ofelia and Cat are both Cuban—and socio-economic status. As their friendship develops, the secrets they hide from their families and each other might grow large enough to tear them apart.

A beautiful tale of the value of friendship against unconquerable odds. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-425-29043-9

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Kokila

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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NIGHTBIRD

There’s a monster in Sidwell, Massachusetts, that can only be seen at night or, as Twig reveals, if passersby are near her house.

It’s her older brother, James, born with wings just like every male in the Fowler line for the last 200 years. They were cursed by the Witch of Sidwell, left brokenhearted by their forebear Lowell Fowler. Twig and James are tired of the secret and self-imposed isolation. Lonely Twig narrates, bringing the small town and its characters to life, intertwining events present and past, and describing the effects of the spell on her fractured family’s daily life. Longing for some normalcy and companionship, she befriends new-neighbor Julia while James falls in love with Julia’s sister, Agate—only to learn they are descendants of the Witch. James and Agate seem as star-crossed as their ancestors, especially when the townspeople attribute a spate of petty thefts and graffiti protesting the development of the woods to the monster and launch a hunt. The mix of romance and magic is irresistible and the tension, compelling. With the help of friends and through a series of self-realizations and discoveries, Twig grows more self-assured. She is certain she knows how to change the curse. In so doing, Twig not only changes James’ fate, but her own, for the first time feeling the fullness of family, friends and hope for the future.

Enchanting. (Magical realism. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-38958-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Wendy Lamb/Random

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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A deftly told story that dramatizes how Danes appointed themselves bodyguards—not only for their king, who was in the habit...

NUMBER THE STARS

The author of the Anastasia books as well as more serious fiction (Rabble Starkey, 1987) offers her first historical fiction—a story about the escape of the Jews from Denmark in 1943.

Five years younger than Lisa in Carol Matas' Lisa's War (1989), Annemarie Johansen has, at 10, known three years of Nazi occupation. Though ever cautious and fearful of the ubiquitous soldiers, she is largely unaware of the extent of the danger around her; the Resistance kept even its participants safer by telling them as little as possible, and Annemarie has never been told that her older sister Lise died in its service. When the Germans plan to round up the Jews, the Johansens take in Annemarie's friend, Ellen Rosen, and pretend she is their daughter; later, they travel to Uncle Hendrik's house on the coast, where the Rosens and other Jews are transported by fishing boat to Sweden. Apart from Lise's offstage death, there is little violence here; like Annemarie, the reader is protected from the full implications of events—but will be caught up in the suspense and menace of several encounters with soldiers and in Annemarie's courageous run as courier on the night of the escape. The book concludes with the Jews' return, after the war, to homes well kept for them by their neighbors.

A deftly told story that dramatizes how Danes appointed themselves bodyguards—not only for their king, who was in the habit of riding alone in Copenhagen, but for their Jews. (Historical fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: April 1, 1989

ISBN: 0547577095

Page Count: 156

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1989

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