Sunday, January 1, 2012

11 BIRTHDAYS by Wendy Mass

Two babies born on the same day.  A white haired woman with a birthmark in the shape of a duck.  A family feud and an historical connection.  All these things combine to create the story 11 BIRTHDAYS by Wendy Mass.

Leo and Amanda were born in the same hospital on the same day.  Ever since that day they have celebrated their birthdays together; that is until the year they turn eleven. 

The two haven't spoken for a year.  At their tenth birthday party, Amanda overheard Leo telling his friends that he was sick of celebrating birthdays with her.  She left the party and has avoided Leo since.

Today is her eleventh birthday.  She wakes up not quite feeling like herself.  As she gets ready for school, she realizes that she is dreading the party scheduled for tonight.  When she heads down to breakfast she encounters her grumpy sister, listens to her father sneeze and cough as the result of a terrible cold, and watches her mother bustle around getting ready for an important business meeting. 

Because her father is under the weather, Amanda and her sister must hustle to catch the bus.  Amanda notices a new bus driver as she stumbles to a seat.  Her best friend enters the bus at the next stop but doesn't see Amanda and sits with someone else instead.  The two girls are busily discussing the upcoming gymnastics tryouts enthusiastically.  Amanda is dreading the tryouts because she is sure she'll make a fool of herself.

Things look up a bit when Amanda enters the school and discovers someone has decorated her locker with "Happy Birthday" and colorful streamers.  However, any happy feelings soon disappear as she is unable to open the stubborn lock on her locker which makes her late for class and the surprise pop quiz her teacher is announcing.  From there things just get worse.

Her eleventh birthday certainly didn't turn out as she had hoped.  Hopefully, tomorrow will be better.  What she doesn't know is that she is about to relive her eleventh birthday over and over.

Author Wendy Mass always offers a unique story, and 11 BIRTHDAYS is no exception.  Much like in the famed movie GROUNDHOG DAY, Amanda and Leo are destined to relive one day until they can figure out the solution to break the magical curse.  Amanda and Leo learn about the importance of friendship and following their own dreams.  Mass uses her creative talent to keep the story moving at a fast pace despite the repetition.

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