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11 Birthdays

Last updated Thursday, May 6, 2010

Author: Wendy Mass
Date of Publication: 2009
ISBN: 0545052394
Grade Level: 5th    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Mar. 2010

Synopsis: Amanda and Leo, born on the same day, have celebrated their birthdays together for 10 years. Still feeling hurt from an unkind remark Leo made at last year’s party, Amanda spends her eleventh birthday without her now-estranged friend to share the fun. In the days that follow, both Amanda and Leo discover that they are caught in a time loop, waking up each morning to find themselves repeating their eleventh birthdays. They soon renew their friendship and begin to experiment by making different choices throughout the day, partly for the thrill of acting without long-term consequences and partly from their fear of never escaping this mysterious time trap. From the double-entendre title to the solid character portrayals to the clarity and wit of the writing, this novel offers a fresh twist on the familiar themes of middle-grade family and school dynamics. The mysterious power that rewinds time eventually seems less important than the power that Amanda finds within herself. Emboldened by the idea of daily do-overs, she discovers that small changes in her attitude and actions result in sometimes-subtle, sometimes-monumental shifts in results for herself, her family, and her friends. A rewarding choice for readers and a natural for booktalks and discussion groups. Grades 4-6. --Carolyn Phelan

Note to readers:
•  You are encouraged to read for the entire 1 1/2 hour period if the kids are interested in the story.
•  This is a cute book. The premise is similar to Groundhog's Day-the characters repeat their birthdays over and over until they become friends again. Unfortunately, you have to get through Chapter 7 to realize the star character is repeating her birthday. If you can, try to read through Chapter 8. It's a pretty easy read.

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  How old are you after 11 birthdays? (11...unless)
•  What do you remember from your last birthday?
•  Why do you think we celebrate our birthdays? (Before modern medicine, people did not live as long and some did not survive their first birthday. We celebrate b/c we are happy to still be here and be healthy!)
•  What special things do you do or eat on your birthday?
•  How many birthdays would you like to celebrate?

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  Have you ever been afraid to try something new? What was it? (new food, roller coaster, doing a cartwheel, making a new friend)
•  Do you share a birthday with anyone?
•  Have you ever shared a party with anyone?
•  Do you have a best friend?
•  Have you ever heard someone talk behind your back? How did that feel?
•  What is deja-vu?
•  What is a hypnotist?
•  What would be your ideal birthday party?
•  Are boys and girls allowed to be best friends?
•  If you had to repeat a day, what would you do differently?

Craft ideas:
•  Design a dream birthday party
•  Design invitations for your 11th Birthday party!
•  Draw a birthday card for your best friend or family member
•  Make birthday blowers-take a long, thin piece of paper and fold it "hot dog" style. Secure the entire edge with tape-it is important that air cannot escape the folded paper. Folded in half, it should be about an inch wide and several inches long. Take one end of the paper and tightly roll it up towards the other end. You can use a pencil to help roll it. Stop rolling when you get about an inch from the opposite end. Blow from the non-rolled end and watch as your blower unrolls! Before rolling, you can color or write on the blower.

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don’t have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!