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Ms. Bixby’s Last Day
By John David Anderson
June 21, 2016
Walden Pond Press
Everyone knows there are different kinds of teachers. The good ones. The not-so-good ones. The boring ones, the mean ones, the ones who try too hard. The ones you’ll never remember, and the ones you want to forget. But Ms. Bixby is none of these. She’s the sort of teacher who makes you feel like the indignity of school is worthwhile. Who makes the idea of growing up less terrifying. Who you never want to disappoint. What Ms. Bixby is, is one of a kind.
Topher, Brand, and Steve know this better than anyone. And so when Ms. Bixby unexpectedly announces that she is very sick and won’t be able to finish the school year, they come up with a plan. Through the three very different stories they tell, we begin to understand just what Ms. Bixby means to Topher, Brand, and Steve—and what they are willing to go to such great lengths to tell her.
John David Anderson, the acclaimed author of Sidekicked, returns with a story of three kids, a very special teacher, and one day that none of them will ever forget.
Praise for Ms. Bixby’s Last Day
“What a beautiful book—a full-hearted and emotional exploration of friendship, grief, imagination, and the inner life of boys. But most of all, it reminds us about the power of the 'Good Ones:' those once-in-a-lifetime teachers who not only saved us, but also became a part of us, long after they’re gone. Kids won't just love this book. They need it.”
Soman Chainani, New York Times-bestselling author of THE SCHOOL FOR GOOD AND EVIL
“Forget the dragons. Forget the swords and shields. Here is the true quest: to face the unendurable, knowing defeat is inevitable, and yet continuing with dignity and honor and purpose and, even, joy. Each page crackles as we embark on the greatest adventure of all.”
Gary D. Schmidt, Newbery Honor winner and author of OKAY FOR NOW
“A story of that one teacher we all have who we’ll never forget, told with laugh-out-loud humor and oh, so much heart.”
Gordon Korman, New York Times-bestselling author of UNGIFTED
“Brand, Steve and Topher are a comic, lovable crew, and wise, pink-haired Ms. Bixby is the teacher every child deserves. This is a touching, often hilarious story of endings, beginnings, and self-discovery. As Brand would say, frawesome!”
Tricia Springstubb, author of MOONPENNY ISLAND
With her pink striped hair, friendly smile, and quirky disposition, Ms. Bixby is the kind of teacher you dream of having and never forget. She definitely means a great deal to best friends, Topher, Steve, and Brand. But when she announces that she has cancer and cannot finish the school year, the three BFFs are devastated...so they concoct a wild and crazy plan to insure that Ms. Bixby’s has the best last day ever and knows how much she means to them.
John David Anderson’s Ms. Bixby’s Last Day is a superb middle-grade, bursting with humor, wonderful characters, and unforgettable heart! Anderson amuses, delights, and captivates with his touching story of three young boys and the teacher they love. The quirky, laugh-out-loud humor and fun adventure I’ve come to expect from Anderson is 100% present in Ms. Bixby’s Last Day, and is joined by thought-provoking and heartfelt emotion. Told from the alternating perspectives of Topher, Steve, and Brand, we get to know each endearing, relatable boy, while getting to see Ms. Bixby through each of their honest, sweet eyes. Readers will enjoy spending time with each unique and engaging boy and will come to love Ms. Bixby as much as them.
The boys go on quite the adventure, as they skip school to see Ms. Bixby and young readers will get a thrill following the boys as their well meaning plans go hilariously awry! From squished cheesecakes, to eccentric shop owners, sharks in a toilet, and more, readers are in for a wild and unpredictable day. And through all the fun and excitement, Anderson beautifully explores tough issues like grief, self-doubt, feeling alone, feeling not good enough, and all the confusing things that come with being twelve.
I was surprised, but pleased to see that Anderson seems to incorporate a young character (one of the three main boys) who may be LGBT. This isn’t done loudly, it’s subtly alluded to, and the words “gay” or “crush” aren’t ever used, but the threads are definitely there. This particular character is merely starting to become aware that maybe he looks at and feels things for his BFF that go beyond admiration and friendship. Again, this aspect of the character and book is more alluded to than actually discussed, and many young readers may not catch it all...but, I think young readers who are experiencing the same questions and confusion WILL see it and get it, and that’s SO amazing and important!
My final thoughts: Ms. Bixby’s Last Day is such a wonderfully written and lovely story that will make readers laugh, think, and cry, and is sure to stay with them for a long time!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
John David Anderson is the author of many books for young readers, includingSidekicked, Minion and The Dungeoneers. A dedicated root beer connoisseur and chocolate fiend, he lives with his wife, two kids, and perpetually whiny cat in Indianapolis, Indiana.
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