Wendy Mass’ Willow Falls/Birthdays Series

11 Birthdays, Finally, and 13 Gifts by Wendy Mass | eBranch Harris County Public Library

11 Birthdays, Finally,
and 13 Gifts by
Wendy Mass |
eBranch Harris County
Public Library

Mass, W., & McInerney, K. (2010). 11 birthdays. New York, NY: Scholastic Audiobooks. 9780545202787

 Mass, W., McInerney, K., & Scholastic Audio-Visual. (2011). Finally. New York: Scholastic Audiobooks. 9780545353984

 Mass, W., McInerney, K., & Scholastic Audio-Visual. (2011). 13 gifts. New York: Scholastic Audio. 9780545354073

Reasons for Reading:  When I sought an audiobook I could download to my iPhone Overdrive app, I first found and downloaded 13 Birthdays. Realizing this book was the third in the series, I checked it in and found the first book in Wendy Mass’ Birthday Series, 11 Birthdays with the HCPL Digital Media – eAudio, supported by Overdrive.

Summary: The first book, 11 Birthdays, is mostly narrated by Amanda, one of Willow Falls’ denizen. Her former best friend, Leo, was born on the same day. Each year, these two have celebrated their birthdays together. When they had a falling out at their tenth birthday, Amanda and Leo haven’t spoken to each other. Amanda keeps reliving the day of her eleventh birthday. Will she ever see tomorrow?  

The next book, Finally, is narrated by Rory (the girl) Swenson, a classmate of Amanda and Leo’s, and this book happens a year after 11 Birthdays. Ever since Rory can remember, she’s longed to be twelve years old. Why? Well, that’s when her parents say Rory can:

  • Get her ears pierced
  • Go to the mall with her friends
  • Babysit her next door neighbor
  • Ride in the front seat
  • Have a cell phone
  • Wear makeup

However, when she turns twelve, Rory has her own special series of misadventures as she becomes the whipping girl of Murphy’s Law.

The third book, 13 Gifts, is narrated by shy wallflower Tara. When she attempts to steal the school mascot so she can sit with the cool kids at lunch, her parents decide that she won’t get to go on her parents’ summer trip to Madagascar. Instead, Tara is sent away to Willow Falls to stay with her aunt, uncle, and cousin Emily for the summer. What a way to spend your thirteenth birthday!

What I Liked : I liked these kids and I liked the wonder generated by the magical elements in all of these books. The kids wanted to do the right thing and they’re very kind. A nice, realistic touch was the fact that there was Rory the girl (a major character in the second and third books) and Rory the boy. What school doesn’t have boys and girls with the same name?

Also, they’re young enough that these books don’t venture into PG-13 or above territory. I found the first and third books to be really strong.

What I Disliked: While I liked Rory, I wasn’t so crazy about her book Finally. I am not a parent but her parents’ concept of making “12” this special age where their daughter eventually gets to do things really seems wrong. This just didn’t seem very loving to me. Couldn’t they have let her do things gradually? Also, I hated how this poor kiddo always had the absolute worst thing happen to her. Was Mass hating on her or what?

Another thing brought to my attention by another blogger was that these kids seem to lie a lot.

Lastly, the woman of magic, Angelina, is sorta scary!

Three Out of Five Pearls

Song: Happy Birthday Song

Setting: Willow Falls

You might also like:

  • Ingrid Law’s Savvy
  • Judy Blume’s Just as Long as We’re Together
  • Louis Sacher’s Holes
For more on Wendy Mass’ Birthday Series, please check out the following links:

3 thoughts on “Wendy Mass’ Willow Falls/Birthdays Series

  1. Pingback: The Sunday Post ~ sharing blog news and book haul ~ Jorie’s 17th Edition « Jorie's Reads

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