11 Birthdays


11 Birthdays
Written by Wendy Mass

Publisher’s Summary:
After celebrating their first nine same-day birthdays together, Amanda and Leo, having fallen out on their tenth and not speaking to each other for the last year, prepare to celebrate their eleventh birthday separately but peculiar things begin to happen as the day of their birthday begins to repeat itself over and over again.

Primary Source Pairing:
The feud between the families of Leo and Amanda goes back generations. As the eleventh birthday day repeats for the kids, they go looking for answers. The long lost journal of Leonard Fitzpatrick is found while Leo and Amanda are sneaking around the Willow Falls Historical Society. It is discovered that in Leo’s great-great-grandfather’s journal, the same thing happened to him and Amanda’s great-great-grandfather: their birthday day repeated over and over again. The journal page explains the day and how the two men figured out how to fix the repeating day. Although the journal page in this book is fictional, for this primary source page, invite students to analyze a handwritten birthday note from musician and composer Leonard Bernstein to his piano teacher, assistant, and friend Helen Coates.

Students can learn more about Leonard Bernstein and his music composition Four Anniversaries for the Piano dedicated to Felicia Montealegre, Johnny Mehegan, David Diamond, and Helen Coates on the Wikipedia page about Four AnniversariesTo hear the composition, visit YouTube.

Questions for Discussion:

  • Describe what you see.
  • What do you notice first?
  • How much of the text can you read?
  • What does it say?
  • What do you notice about the page the writing appears on?
  • What do you see on the page besides writing?
  • What other details can you see?
  • If someone created something like this today, what would be different?
  • What would be the same?

Book Cover and Summary: Follett
Happy Birthday Letter: Library of Congress
Collection of Leonard Bernstein birthday letters: Library of Congress