When three very different girls find a mysterious invitation to a lavish mansion, the promise of adventure and mischief is too intriguing to pass up.
Ofelia Castillo (a budding journalist), Aster Douglas (a bookish foodie), and Cat Garcia (a rule-abiding birdwatcher) meet the kid behind the invite, Lane DiSanti, and it isn’t love at first sight. But they soon bond over a shared mission to get the Floras, their local Scouts, to ditch an outdated tradition. In their quest for justice, independence, and an unforgettable summer, the girls form their own troop and find something they didn’t know they needed: sisterhood.
Birdwatching tips. Information about crystals. Cookie recipe. Writing tips. Instructions for DIY badges. Author’s note. Bibliography.
Scholastic Reading Counts
Lane Disanti is spending the summer with her grandmother as she tries to get used to a newly fractured family. Lane decides to create a secret club to make some friends of her own. Banking on anonymity and mystery being an enticement, she drops invitations into programming bags at the library. Three very different girls find the invitations and attend the first meeting. Ofelia Castillo is a budding 12-year-old reporter always on the hunt for the next big story. Having overprotective parents means Ofelia has little opportunity to put her sleuthing skills to good use. Aster Douglas lives with her grandpa, who homeschools her and teaches her the art of civil disobedience. She whips up culinary delights to distract her from the absence of a father who died in combat and a mother stationed in Japan. Catarina Garcia is a young ornithologist trapped by her mother’s desire to see her wearing the feathery crown of the Floras, the local Scouts. The other Floras members, including her old best friend Alice, make fun of her ideas about bird preservation. The four girls learn about friendship as they grow to support one another over a common cause. This story is a wonderful look at the complex and fragile nature of friendships. Pérez skillfully examines themes of change, allowing each girl to shine, and their unique character arcs are creatively explored. A perfect title for school and public libraries seeking realistic books about friendship.
In alternating chapters, readers meet lonely, artistic Lane DiSanti; bird-lover Cat Garcia; cooking whiz Aster Douglas; and aspiring journalist Ofelia Castillo. Spending an enforced summer vacation in sleepy Sabal Palms, Florida, with her wealthy grandmother, Lane decides to form a club and surreptitiously places invitations all around town to an “Inaugural Meeting of the Ostentation of Others and Outsiders.” With realistic awkwardness, the four girls gradually forge a friendship, united by a common cause: stopping the Floras, the town’s traditional girls’ club, from bestowing its ceremonial feathered hat at the annual Miss Floras contest (Cat calls the hat “bird murder”). Acts of resistance involving stickers, plastic flamingos, and attempted hat theft don’t always go smoothly and result in frank discussions of privilege and risk among the friends, a diverse group in terms of ethnicity as well as class (e.g., Ofelia’s mother is employed by Lane’s grandmother). Pérez’s (The First Rule of Punk, rev. 7/17) third-person narrative, with chapters each focusing on one of the four friends, evokes the small-town Florida setting vividly as it balances the ensemble cast and elicits readers’ sympathies for each member, even when the characters don’t understand one another. The Ostentation’s appended handbook provides tips on the girls’ favorite activities, and an author’s note expands on the history of feathered hats and, more broadly, on activism. Perfect for preteens becoming aware that friendships can be complicated, and that the world is more so.