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The Birthday Room

3.57  ·  Rating Details ·  187 Ratings  ·  33 Reviews
"Two of the things Benjamin Hunter received for his twelfth birthday took him completely by surprise: A room and a letter. The room was from his parents. The letter was from his uncle."

Ben was just two years old when he and his uncle, Ian, were last together, so Ben didn't remember him. And no one in Ben's family ever talked about the man. Thenthe letter arrived, changing
Paperback, 160 pages
Published August 7th 2001 by Greenwillow Books (first published 1999)
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Oct 05, 2010 Rebecca rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Grades 3+
Shelves: classroom, five-star

The Birthday Room is about a boy named Ben who recieves two suprising gifts for his twelfth birthday: a room and a letter. The room was from his parents, and the letter was from his uncle, who invited him to come and visit him in Oregon. Ben hadn't seen his uncle since he was two, when a terrible accident occured when his uncle was watching him. When they arrive in Oregon, Ben finds out that his aunt is expecting a baby. Will Ben be able to bring his family back together again?

I really enjoyed t

The Styling Librarian
Dec 24, 2010 The Styling Librarian rated it liked it
Shelves: kids-books
Quite a different story. I had an issue with the mom being so fixated on herself that she didn't think beyond her issues to address her son's needs at times... I love Kevin Henkes's picture books, I liked his other books like Bird Lake Moon and Olive's Ocean a bit more.
Mar 25, 2012 Josiah rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
There's just something about Kevin Henkes's novels that one doesn't find anywhere else. It's as if the characters that he creates are so real to him as he's writing them that fabricating a dramatic story to make their lives seem more interesting to readers would strike him as inappropriate ornamentation. Rather, Kevin Henkes gives his characters all the room they need to live their lives as naturally as any real person would, and trusts for something good to come out of what we're then able to ...more
Janna Gifford
Oct 29, 2012 Janna Gifford rated it really liked it
The birthday room by Kevin Henkes is a contemporary realistic fiction book that has targeted the intermediate age group. This book is about the main character Ben getting a room in the house from his parents for his twelfth birthday to use as a studio. Ben is feeling pressured to now become and artist so when his Uncle Ian offers to have Ben visits, he jumps on the opportunity. Throughout his time with his Uncle Ian, many things happen to lead him to figure out that the birthday room should be u ...more
Jan 23, 2012 Nikki rated it liked it
This is one of the few books on my "read" shelf that isn't fantasy. I've certainly read plenty of non-fantasy books, however I usually don't think much about them and don't count them towards anything. So, I'm not really sure what prompted me to add this one to my shelf.

I got it for my birthday awhile ago - twelfth or thirteenth I do believe. I can remember two details from this book (outside of the main plot, of course) - the ending annoyed me for a stupid reason and the book made me feel sad.
Jan 11, 2009 Jocey added it
The Birthday Room, by Kevin Henkes is a book about a boy who goes to visit his uncle. The main character is a boy named Benjamin Hunter. He likes to be called Ben. This book takes place in Wisconsin and in Oregon. Ben’s main internal conflict is that he doesn’t really like the room he got for his birthday. His main external struggle is that he got his finger cut of when his uncle was watching him when he was younger.

During my time reading this book I made a text-to-world connection. Throughout m
Sep 12, 2011 Lisa rated it it was amazing
Benjamin hasn't seen Uncle Ian since Benjamin accidentally cut off a pinky finger at age two and a half in Ian's woodworking studio while Ian was baby-sitting him. On his twelfth birthday, Benjamin receives a letter from Ian, expressing a desire to reconnect and inviting him to his home in Oregon for a week. After some soul-searching, Benjamin and his mother--who has her own set of issues with Uncle Ian--decide to take the trip.

I thought this was a really good story. I loved how it touched on th
Ike Nur
Sep 08, 2016 Ike Nur rated it it was amazing
Jan 27, 2013 MaryAnn rated it really liked it
I thought this was a lovely book about figuring your place in life, your gifts and the evolving relationship with a parent as well as other adults in your life. The main character,Ben a just turned twelve year old boy, takes a short in real time journey; but long in the scope of the years and events and emotions leading to that present. The story leaves you with hope for the future of everyone in the story, especially Ben and his mother. The story is so well written that it engages and resonates ...more
Dec 29, 2012 Autumn rated it really liked it
Minor spoilers included.

This was the first book for younger readers that I've picked up in a while: I usually stick to YA. At first the book appealed to me because the author is from Madison, but from the first page I was drawn in. The book is beautifully and simply written, and really is a simple story which touches on some deeper themes. When he's a toddler, the main character is the victim of an accident. His uncle is blamed. When he turns 12, he reconnects with his uncle, and his mother is a
Kayla Cheadle
Apr 26, 2013 Kayla Cheadle rated it really liked it
The birthday room is by the author named Kevin Henkes .its about a boy who accidentally lost his finger when he was a little boy it had got cut off and his parents ends up giving him a room for his birthday and then later gets a card from a couple of his family members asking him if he would come down to visit cause they have not seen him ever sense the accident.but through out the book the parents were having some problems kind of agreeing on some things .my favorite character in the book was t ...more
Same kind of exploration of family dynamics that are original and exposing adult flaws (as Protecting Marie), which is nice. Sometimes Henkes gets sappy and plays the same chords over and over but there's always good stuff to explore. Kids do not gravitated toward his books on their own so he's one to encourage.
Dec 31, 2011 Cynthia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ben is a boy who has been given an unexpected gift by his parents. He is an only child, thoughtful and artistic. He visits his uncle and meets people who help him see the world with new eyes. These new connections help him understand his family. I thought the story was told well, and I liked the descriptions. Another quiet but strong book by Henkes.
Jan 02, 2013 Elizabeth rated it really liked it
Dear Kevin Henkes, Wisconsinite writer of fun picture books, you have the touch for children's writing as well. This book is an interesting take on loneliness and family dynamics, while being a happy book all in all. The families are atypical, which allows a variety of people to relate to this, I think. The Oregon setting is fun, too.
Aug 07, 2015 Sphiwe rated it liked it
Benjamin Hunter received surprising presents,a room and a letter.the room from his parents and the letter from his uncle during his twelveth birthday.That is such an amazing thing because they shows how much they they do care about their special child and if I was him i would not even try to disappoint them after they had showed how loving they are.
Jan 31, 2011 Nancy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: children-s-books
Rich and beautiful; I had a couple of moments of Hey! wait! because the mother gets the wool pulled over her eyes, but in a very real-life way, that is just human, while it is a bit hurtful. So glad to read stories rich in emotion, showing shortcomings and sadness in life, but also beauty and strength.
Nov 02, 2009 Mallory rated it really liked it
For Ben’s 12th birthday he receives two presents: a room for him to paint in and an invitation to visit his estranged uncle in Oregon. One of the presents is a great disappoint and the other is life-changing. This is a heartwarming story about a boy who learns to be comfortable in his own skin.
Aug 22, 2014 Nancy rated it it was amazing
Very good book for late elementary school children to discuss causation--why things happen to people and whether it is someone's fault or not. Sometimes everyone in the situation feels to blame for circumstances. Very eloquently written--not heavy handed.
Aug 20, 2012 Sarah rated it really liked it
Shelves: childrens-books
I like this book and the way it wrote about tween and teen issues in a sensitive way. It addressed larger issues and I like the way it was presented. The characters are relatable and I really appreciated the perspective. I would use this book in my classroom.
Jul 31, 2008 Cheryl rated it liked it
I enjoyed this book. It takes a look at how holding a grudge can become a huge part of someone's life and how it affects more than that person. Also, when you hold on to a grudge it can be very painful to try to make amends if left too long.
Jan 05, 2008 Heather rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: boys and girls 10 & up
Shelves: children-s
Ben receives two gifts for his birthday -- a room from his parents and a letter from the uncle he hasn't seen in ten years. Narrated in a voice that will appeal to both boys and girls, The Birthday Room starts out a little ominous, and ends up a little sappy, but that's not a bad thing.
Feb 12, 2008 Janee rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-to-kids
cannot remember this book at all. But it was on my list, that I wrote, of the books I have read to my kids.
Cathy Feaster
Dec 16, 2015 Cathy Feaster rated it liked it
It was a quick and sweet read. The characters were vivid. The story could have been developed more. It ended abruptly.
Karen Gibson
Aug 01, 2008 Karen Gibson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Kevin Henkes is amazing. He writes wonderful picture books and now I have read my first novel by him. This book was well written and wonderful. Well woven plot.
Annie Bettin
Annie Bettin rated it liked it
Apr 08, 2016
Karina A-C
Karina A-C rated it it was ok
Jul 06, 2011
Chey rated it really liked it
Nov 14, 2007
Joy rated it really liked it
Aug 25, 2012
Hazelnut Latte
Hazelnut Latte rated it liked it
Aug 19, 2016
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Kevin Henkes became an author/illustrator when he was nineteen years old, working on a card table in his bedroom.
Today he's the author of many award-winning picture books and novels.
More about Kevin Henkes...

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