Eleven Birthdays, Wendy Mass

Summary:  Amanda and Leo were born minutes apart on the same day. Both were named after their great-great-grandparents. And it was decided (primarily by a stranger) that these two babies would celebrate all future birthdays together. So they did. Even if it was by accident the first time. 

On the day of their tenth birthday, Amanda overhears Leo claiming to his friends that he does these parties with Amanda because he feels sorry for her. Angry, Amanda tosses everything that reminds her of him out of the window, and she refuses to speak to him. 

A year later, they still aren’t speaking, and they’re having separate parties. Amanda has the worst day ever: her locker gets stuck, she has a pop quiz, she freezes during gymnast try-outs (that she’s being forced into doing– doesn’t make it less embarrassing), people leave her party early to go to Leo’s, her mom loses her job, and everything sucks. 

Then it happens again. 

Only Leo and Amanda seem to realize this is happening. They have no idea how to fix this, but they do know that they have to work together to make it stop. 

Commentary:  Yeah, I know, it’s Groundhog Day for the middle grades set. 

You know what? I don’t care. What fifth grader has watched that, anyway? (Other than kids in Rafe’s class.)  This book is flat-out adorable and happy. Yeah, sure, the concept isn’t original, but there’s nothing new under the sun. It’s got humor, it’s touching, it’s a good package. 

/Tangent/ Can I be blunt? I haven’t been reading a lot of kiddie lit lately.  My 30 before 30 project has taken over my reading, but with the end of school I’m reading more YA/Juvenile fiction.  I worked the Scholastic Book Fair (IT’S LIKE CHRISTMAS!!!), and was on a mission to find books for my cousin in second grade  and my niece (who’s 10). My mom was upset with my niece for sneaking The Hunger Games trilogy onto her Nook. Yeah. It’s inappropriate for a ten-year old. Then my mom read a chapter of a book I grabbed for my cousin, and she was shocked at the content. (It’s got apocalyptic themes.)/end tangent/
It’s really, really nice to find a chapter book that’s age-appropriate, happy, realistic (mostly) and teaches a lesson. 

Here are some of the lessons: 

  • One major lesson is be yourself. For example, Amanda tries out for gymnastics because her best friend tells her it’s the way to be cool. She wants to be in marching band. By the time her “Groundhog Day” quits repeating, she has auditioned for band. 
  • You make all the difference in how your day goes. So, they skip school one day. That didn’t work out too well. Amanda reads her sister’s diary and gives her a heads-up about her crush. That didn’t work out too well. She helps a crying kid by having his “missing assignment” ready on day 6. Wow, she made someone’s day. 
  • Know your friends. Amanda’s next BFF (after Leo) is Stephanie, but Stephanie is really concerned about being cool. She decides marching band is not cool– even though that’s what Amanda wants to do. When she makes the team, she decides going to Leo’s party would show team spirit– instead of sticking with her BFF. Amanda realizes that she has two friends who were so loyal they showed up early and stayed the entire time. Ouch. Way to waste energy on someone not worth it, Amanda. 

Class Stuff: 
Grades: upper 3rd-5th. 
Grade: A- 
I’m a little out of the grading books game, can’t remember the last book I “graded.” But due to the Bill Murray-esque plot, I have to take a couple points off… but not many. It’s funny. It’s sweet. This is really popular with the kids, from what a fellow book fair volunteer said.  😀

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