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Book Review

This pre-teen slice-of-life story by Lauren Myracle is the second in " The Winnie Years" series published by Dutton Children's Books, a division of Penguin Young Readers Group.

Eleven is written for kids ages 8 to 12 years. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Winnie Perry thinks it's perfect that she's turning 11 years old on March 11. She even gets her own kitten, which she names Sweetie-Pie. But Winnie learns not everything about being 11 is wonderful. She has to deal with her teenage sister Sandra's increasingly bad attitude toward her, their parents and life in general. Her best friend, Amanda, is changing, too. She'd rather read Seventeen and watch boys at the beach than build sand castles. Amanda is also spending more time with a rude, selfish classmate named Gail, who seems to want Winnie out of the picture. Meanwhile, Mom urges Winnie to hang out with Dinah Divine, the socially awkward daughter of Dad's boss. Winnie starts to enjoy Dinah's company, but she worries what others will think of her if they become good friends. Winnie feels the pressure to be like everyone else by having a boyfriend on Valentine's Day, dressing like her friends on picture day and learning the newest jump-roping techniques on the playground. She ultimately discovers it is more important to follow her heart and do what's right than to seek the approval of her peers.

Christian Beliefs

Winnie does not like the idea of staying with her grandmother, who goes to church Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays, and makes Winnie recite a Bible verse before every meal.

Other Belief Systems

Winnie always dresses as a witch at her family's Halloween party. She asks Mom if real witches exist, and Mom looks at her as if it's a silly question. Winnie tells the cat it can be her familiar.

Authority Roles

Winnie's parents are present and involved in the kids' lives. Dinah's father raises her on his own after Dinah's mother dies. The assistant principal, concerned about an unpopular boy getting his feelings hurt, suggests that Winnie ask him to couples skate at their class party.


The Lord's name is frequently used in vain. The words h---, p---ed, crap and heck each appear once. Bathroom humor: Winnie, her friends and family have discussions about things — passing gas, boogers, puking and peeing in the ocean.


As Winnie and Amanda watch the older boys at the beach, Winnie indicates, without actually saying it, that one is scratching himself. In a store dressing room, Winnie sees Dinah naked from the waist up. She says the girl has two nipples like dots of jam. When the boys on the playground find out Gail is wearing a bra, they start spouting out euphemisms such as "over-the-shoulder-boulder-holder."

Discussion Topics

If your children have read this book or someone has read it to them, consider these discussion topics :

  • Why is Winnie hesitant to hang out with Dinah?
  • Why does Dinah behave differently than some of the other girls?
  • Why does Winnie decide to be Dinah's friend in spite of what people think?
  • What are some of the things Winnie does to gain the acceptance of others?
  • What have you done to impress someone else or prove yourself?
  • How did you feel about it afterward?
  • What are some things you like about being your current age?
  • What are some hard things you must face at your age?

Additional Comments/Notes

Lying: Winnie and her friends tell each other white lies. For example, to avoid embarrassment, Dinah tells a group of girls she kissed a boy. When Winnie's kitten gets stuck in the wall, Dad lowers Winnie into a somewhat dangerous hole to get the cat. He tells her not to tell her mother, and she likes having a secret from Mom.

Book reviews cover the content, themes and world-views of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. A book's inclusion does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family._

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