11 Birthdays is a great book for upper elementary and middle school students that highlights the importance of true friends. The main characters, Amanda and Leo, are very relatable, and I think both male and female readers will find something to enjoy in this book.
What would you do if you had to live the same day over? What if you had to live it over until you got things right? Amanda and Leo have to keep reliving their 11th birthday over and over again until they get things just right, but their journey toward finding out what “just right” means is both hilarious and frustrating. I loved that the first thing they needed to do was mend fences and repair their friendship that was damaged on their 10th birthday. The two characters learned a lot about themselves and the importance of their friendship when they celebrated their 11th birthday 11 times.
I also enjoyed the character of Angelina. This mysterious old woman, who we meet when Amanda and Leo are born, was kind of in the shadows throughout the book, and we finally learned more about her at the end. It was cool how her story meshed with the lives of Amanda and Leo and even their ancestors.
I highly recommend this book, and I’m so glad that it is a nominee for the 2011-12 South Carolina Children’s Book Award. It is a great example of quality literature for children.