Wednesday, February 3, 2010

11 Birthdays by Wendy Mass

11 Years Ago-Willow Falls Birthing Center
The oddest thing about Angelina D'Angelo was that no one could remember a time when she didn't live in Willow Falls.  The oldest man in town, Bucky Whitehead, swears Angelina was an old lady when HE was a boy.  But when questioned, Angelina just smiled.  The person asking would get so distracted by watching the duck-shaped birthmark wiggle on her cheek, they would forget their question altogether. 
Rereading that first paragraph  made me rethink how we meet these two odd and interesting characters over again.  This is a fun story which begins with a mysterious encounter between Angelina and two sets of parents at the Willow Falls Birthing Center.  Two babies, Leo and Amanda, born on the same day fall under an enchantment given to their great-great grandfathers, bickering men, who owned adjoining apple orchards.  Amanda and Leo have celebrated every birthday together since the very first and have a comfortable and close relationship until Amanda overhears Leo say mean things at their 10th birthday.  Amanda storms out and the two do not speak for a year. 
Interesting that I should finish this book today because what happens to Amanda and Leo is they keep reliving their 11th birthday until they get it right...12 days later.  This little twist will delight students and create all kinds of great classroom conversation if used as a read-aloud.   They are witness to how their actions affect many around them and learn slowly how to patch it back together as well as how important it is to stay true to yourself.  I loved it when Amanda decides to head to band try-outs instead of the gymnastics audition she keeps flubbing. Of course, it reminded me of the great and wonderful, Groundhog Day, starring Bill Murray-where he is forced to relive this day over and over!!
This is a very easy read, great for the intended audience and should lend itself to easy discussion. 

Highly Recommended
Elementary Fiction
4/5 peaceful stars

***Sadly, I had this book in my book bag and somehow on the way home from work, in the back seat of my car, my water bottle leaked its remaining 1/3 all over four books, including this one.  While I made dinner for my children this evening I used the microwave to slowly eek the water out of the pages and the is not back to normal but it isn't fat and crinkly either!!!   
Minor damp spot in an otherwise beautiful Feb. 2nd!
Happy Reading...
This one has been on my mental to-read list, since I found out Mass will be coming here to speak with students for our annual Cedar Valley Youth Reads.


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Jana said...

Good review! I bought this for my collection and have been wanting to read it since. The girls in fourth and fifth grade like it too much and I haven't been able to get my hands on it!!