Summary: Ms. Bixby’s Last Day
In this story, a young teacher is diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. However, her illness isn’t the focus of the story. The author turns the focus on three of her students — Brand, Topher, and Steve. Each of these boys’ lives has been touched by Ms. Bixby in one way or another.
The story alternates between past and present as the boys share their stories of their favorite teacher, Ms. Bixby. But, besides that, they also share stories about their unlikely friendship, their families, and life in middle school. The most action in this story, however, results from the adventure all three boys take to say goodbye to their teacher.
Oh, man. I LOVED THIS BOOK. John David Anderson is gifted at writing middle-school boys. I loved all the stories about their lives and more importantly, about Ms. Bixby.
Ms. Bixby’s Last Day is really a celebration of the right kind of teachers and all the ways they can change a child’s life. Ms. Bixby isn’t perfect by any means, but she’s a champion for all the children in her class. She sees them even when their parents fail to. Yet, she doesn’t overstep her boundaries — which I appreciated, especially with Brand and his dad.
Each of these three boys face unique challenges — from a disabled parent, to parents with high expectations, and even self esteem issues. Ultimately, while this book doesn’t have a “happy ending” in the typical sense, the ending is happy in many right ways.
Overall: Ms. Bixby’s Last Day
I loved, loved, loved, and would highly recommend Ms. Bixby’s Last Day. This middle-grade novel is sad without being crushing. There’s an unmissable hopeful gleam and so many children — boys and girls alike, but especially boys — will appreciate reading it. But even more, parents, adults, and teachers will benefit too.
Ms. Bixby’s Last Day is a moving tribute to the power of a teacher who truly sees her students and advocates for them. It tackles everything from bullying to sibling rivalry to parental neglect. This one is not to be missed.
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More Middle-Grade Reviews
- Forever Or a Long, Long Time by Caela Carter
- Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga
- Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo
Have you read this book or anything by John David Anderson? What did you think? What are your favorite books about the power of good teachers? I’d love to know!