Great Illustrated Books

11 Birthdays

By Wendy Mass

Scholastic Press, 2009
Pages : 272
Suggested Ages: 9-12
ISBN: 0545052394

Amanda and Leo, born on the same day and in the same hospital, are about to turn 11. Until now, they have shared a birthday party every year, but this year will be different. At their tenth birthday party last year, Amanda overheard Leo making a disparaging remark to his buddies about her, and she has been furious with him ever since. So this year, Amanda will be holding her own Hollywood-themed costume party in the basement on Friday night. The day does not go well. Dad, who is supposed to be the DJ, has come down with a terrible cold. On the bus, Amanda's best friend, Stephanie, sits with best-friend stealer, Ruby. There's a pop quiz in history class, and Amanda freezes at gymnastics tryouts, unable to do a back handspring. Even worse, she learns that Leo is having his birthday party at his house tonight, too, and most of Amanda's guests are planning to go there instead. They drop off Amanda's presents at her door, and head over to Leo's. Her party's a flop, and afterwards, she learns that her mother just got fired from her job.

When she awakens the next morning, relieved her awful birthday is finally over, Amanda is astonished to realize that it's Friday all over again. At first, she figures her family is just playing an elaborate trick on her, trying to convince her it is not Saturday, but it's no joke. She needs to relive the dreadful day all over again, and when she wakes up the next morning, surprise! It's Friday yet again. While this may put you in mind of the movie, "Groundhog Day," with the main character experiencing the same day over and over, it has its own intriguing logic. Amanda is not the only person caught in this loop-Leo is stuck, too, and they need to figure out why this is happening and how to get back to their regular lives. Other stellar books where kids try to correct the past include Slob by Ellen Potter, Back to Before by Jan Slepian, and 2010 Newbery Medal winner, When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead.

Reviewed by : JF.


If you love this book, then try:

Corbett, Sue. 12 Again. Dutton, 2002.

Gaiman, Neil. Coraline. HarperCollins, 2002.

Hahn, Mary Downing. Time for Andrew: A Ghost Story. Clarion, 1994.

Mass, Wendy. Every Soul a Star. Little, Brown, 2008.

Mass, Wendy. A Mango-Shaped Space. Little, Brown, 2003.

Pearce, Philippa. Tom's Midnight Garden. HarperCollins, 1958.

Pearson, Kit. Awake and Dreaming. Viking, 1997.

Potter, Ellen. Slob. Philomel, 2009.

Slepian, Jan. Back to Before. Philomel, 1993.

Stead, Rebecca. When You Reach Me. Random House/Wendy Lamb, 2009.

Critics have said

"A rewarding choice for readers and a natural for booktalks and discussion groups."