3.9 116
by Patricia Reilly Giff

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Sam is almost 11 when he discovers a locked box in the attic above his grandfather Mack’s room, and a piece of paper that says he was kidnapped. There are lots of other words, but Sam has always had trouble reading. He’s desperate to find out who he is, and if his beloved Mack is really his grandfather. At night he’s haunted by dreams of a big castle…  See more details below


Sam is almost 11 when he discovers a locked box in the attic above his grandfather Mack’s room, and a piece of paper that says he was kidnapped. There are lots of other words, but Sam has always had trouble reading. He’s desperate to find out who he is, and if his beloved Mack is really his grandfather. At night he’s haunted by dreams of a big castle and a terrifying escape on a boat. Who can he trust to help him read the documents that could unravel the mystery? Then he and the new girl, Caroline, are paired up to work on a school project, building a castle in Mack’s woodworking shop. Caroline loves to read, and she can help. But she’s moving soon, and the two must hurry to discover the truth about Sam.

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

The day before he turns 11, Sam searches the attic for hidden birthday presents and discovers more than he bargained for: a newspaper clipping showing a photograph of him as a missing child. In this exquisitely rendered story of self-discovery, Giff (Lily's Crossing) creates what she calls a "jig-saw puzzle" of a book, showing readers how Sam pieces together artifacts and his own flashbacks to find out whether Mack, the man he has lived with for as long as he can remember, really is his grandfather. Learning the truth requires research, and Sam, a special-needs student who has trouble reading, solicits help from Caroline, a new girl at school. As they embark on two projects-building a medieval castle for social studies and solving the mystery of Sam's past-they also construct a solid friendship, despite Caroline's parents' plans for another, imminent move. Although the premise echoes that of Caroline Cooney's The Face on the Milk Carton, the similarity ends there. Evoking an entirely different mood and set of circumstances, this intimate story realistically examines friendship, family secrets and the struggles of a learning-disabled child trying to make sense of the world. Given the author's expertise at developing sympathetic characters and creating a suspenseful plot, readers will find the complexity of Sam's vulnerabilities to be as intriguing as the unfolding enigma of his past. Ages 8-13. (Jan.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Children's Literature
AGERANGE: Ages 9 to 12.

Almost eleven, Sam still struggles to read and make sense of his strange dreams of boats, water, storms, and a castle-like building. Embarrassed by having to go to the Resource Room every afternoon but wondering about the clipping that he has discovered in an attic trunk, he becomes determined to make sense of the sticks and squiggles on paper. Caroline, a new girl in class, seems as much a loner as he but Sam comes to trust her. While working on the joint project, Sam gradually learns to make sense of words. Caroline's own set of problems (a family that frequently moves because of a painter father, and reluctance to make friends in new places), come to light as they work together on building a castle model for their medieval history project. She records what they do in a journal while Sam does the actual building. The castle binds them together and each grows stronger individually. Gradually, the castle helps Sam make sense of his dreams, while the work helps Caroline form a friendship and cope with the frequent moves. Giff's writing and chapter beginnings, each a poem, move the story along to its conclusion. The mystery of Sam's family and coming to live with an extended hodge-podge--though warm and loving--mix of adults is told with warmth. Descriptions are vivid and characters both likeable and believable. The Resource Room teacher reaches out to Sam, seeing in him the determination needed to overcome his reading problem, which appears to be developmental, and letting readers understand that Sam has everything he needs to be successful in whatever he does. Reviewer: Leslie Greaves Radloff

AGERANGE: Ages 11 to 14.

A secret search for hidden birthday presents leads almost-eleven Sam to the attic where he finds a newspaper photo of himself, age three, captioned "Missing" and with a different last name. Memories ignited by this discovery cause him to fearfully wonder about his true identity. Is Mack really his grandfather? Might someone take him away from Mack and friends Onji and Anima, whom he loves? And why does he have an indefinable anxiety about the number eleven? Although the resource teacher is kind, Sam has given up on reading. Who can help him decipher the clipping and piece together his other clues? Caroline, the new girl, warns him she will not be around long enough to be friends, but agrees to help him while at the same time they build a castle for a class project. Sam's extraordinary talent for working with wood has been nurtured by Mack, and the castle the two children build reveals yet another of Sam's memories. When Mack sees the finished castle for the first time, he realizes it is time to tell Sam how they came to be together. With elegance bestowed by the love and understanding of young hearts, Giff crafts an affecting story. As in her Newbery Honor-winner Lily's Crossing (Delacorte, 1997), two characters are needy in very different ways, yet each finds firmer footing at last through the shared journey of their friendship. The novel is a must-have for school and public libraries where young readers will see themselves and their friends in Sam and Caroline. Reviewer: Marla K. Unruh
April 2008 (Vol. 31, No. 1)

From the Publisher
Starred Review, Publishers Weekly, November 19, 2007:
"This intimate story realistically examines friendship, family secrets and the struggles of a learning-disability child trying to make sense fo the world."

Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews, December 1, 2007:
"An engrossing examination of a profound theme in the deft hands of a discerning author."

Interview, The New York Times: In the Region, February 3, 2008:
"Handling difficult subjects with sensitivity is Mrs. Giff’s specialty. If she has tried to drive home a single point in all her stories, it is that ordinary people are special — and that children, most of all, need to feel that way."

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Product Details

Random House Children's Books
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Random House
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File size:
2 MB
Age Range:
9 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

Patricia Reilly Giff is the author of many beloved books for children, including the Newbery Honor books, Lily’s Crossing and Pictures of Hollis Woods. She lives in Trumbull, Connecticut.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Eleven 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 119 reviews.
Desiree-star More than 1 year ago
I loved this book! It wasn't very long, but the characters were memorable and the resolution was very satisfying.
Laura51 More than 1 year ago
w o w ! Can this book get nymore thrilling. I don't think so, every second of the way you are being entertained. you sometimes don't want to stop reading it off the hook. REALLY!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I absolutly fell in love with this book. It has such great mystery! But i would read the sample first to make sure it is the book for you. I hope you enjoy.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Besst book EVVVEEERRRR. Must read
Joanne Matarese More than 1 year ago
The book was ok
Reagan Guerrero More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed, it a was very entertaining! (11yrs old) :?}
Kayce Rhoden More than 1 year ago
Good book for a class to read together and i defently recomend it !!! Some parts of the book u cnt stop readingg !!! Amazing
Guest More than 1 year ago
Eleven Patricia Reilly Giff Wemby Lamb Books Realistic Fiction For years Sam thought that Mack was the nicest man in the world, he thought he was his grandfather, and he never got angry. That was before that fateful day when Sam saw the article saying that he himself had been missing. Sam needed to find someone who could help him read the article easier, so he picked the girl Caroline, who also got assigned to a project with him. Together Sam and Caroline find out who Sam really is, and where he came from. Sam is an eleven year old boy, who has trouble reading, he lives a normal life with his grandfather. That is until he finds a newspaper article with the words missing and Sam on it. Sam went to his friend Caroline, Caroline is a nice adventurous girl who loves to read. Together they go to Sam¿s apartment strip, where he lives with his grandfather Mack. Mack is an old man who loves woodworking and never gets angry. Together Sam and Mack live in an apartment complex with Onji and Anima. Anima is the owner of the complex, but also owns a restaurant, as for Onji, he is a good friend of Mack's, who invited them over, Onji owns a sandwich shop somewhat like Subway. All of these characters would have to help Sam to find his true identity. After reading this book I would have to say that it is a very entertaining and exciting story. All in all, this story is about mystery, realistic fiction, woodworking, and friendship. If you like those subjects then you would like this book. This is a quick read, and somewhat easy for those who have trouble reading, but even for people like me who read at a high school level it can still be found enjoyable. All together I would say this book deserves a six on a scale of one to ten. If you get the chance it would do you well to read this book, Eleven.
Anne Lam More than 1 year ago
was amazing worth the money. i luved youll like it too!
thebmw More than 1 year ago
Enjoyed the story
Libby Shonka Smith More than 1 year ago
This was a really good book but there were somme major type-os once in the book there was the word birthday but it was spelled bitajany so the type-os brought it down frrom a five to a four star
Erica Burdick More than 1 year ago
It is a very good book some unexcpected things happen and it is very intriguing and it (sometimes) catches you of gaurd.
Vanessa Nguyen More than 1 year ago
it was awesome so much mysteries and exciting for my family this is the best book ever i would recomend this book if they were 6 or 600! LOVE THIS BOOK! make sure you read this to your kids a chapter each night a wonderful bed time story!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Vitoria Wasserman More than 1 year ago
This book is great! I recomend this book to kids who love suspensful mysterys!
Karen Romano More than 1 year ago
so interesting pulls you into the story on the 1#page
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you are into a jam packed, thrilling, can't put your hands down reader, Read 'Eleven'. You'll find youself waking up in the morning with your glasses on and a book in your hands that your gripping tightley. Basically, it's a must have reader for 2008!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was an amazing book!I loved it. It is about a boy who has to find out who he really is, and he has dreams that relate to the number eleven. Read this!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book was good at the beginning, however I expected the story to be a little more interesting or astonishing than it really was. The reason for his kidnapping was pretty lame. It was a nice, short read though and audiences near the ages of eleven would probably enjoy the story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"Im a fummy person gib me six hunnit fiddy dollas pelez..." You are also a fummy guy who doesn't know how to spell. Was that your supposedly fummy joke? -Anonymous P.S. I think Eleven is a fantastic book about teamwork to solve a mystery. But the BOB questions are astonishingly hard and detailed. Wow.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I can not tell you the ending . You have to read to find out. ====|||||===?=============
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What is the ending?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago