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Ms. Bixby's Last Day

Cover of Ms. Bixby's Last Day

Ms. Bixby's Last Day

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John David Anderson, author of Sidekicked and The Dungeoneers, returns with a funny, heartwarming, and heartbreaking contemporary story about three boys, one teacher, and a day none of them will ever forget.

Everyone knows there are different kinds of teachers. The boring ones, the mean ones, the ones who try too hard, the ones who stopped trying long ago. The ones you'll never remember, and the ones you want to forget. Ms. Bixby is none of these. She's the sort of teacher who makes you feel like school is somehow worthwhile. Who recognizes something in you that sometimes you don't even see in yourself. 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 won't be able to finish the school year, they come up with a risky plan—more of a quest, really—to give Ms. Bixby the last day she deserves. Through the three very different stories they tell, we begin to understand what Ms. Bixby means to each of them—and what the three of them mean to each other.

John David Anderson, author of Sidekicked and The Dungeoneers, returns with a funny, heartwarming, and heartbreaking contemporary story about three boys, one teacher, and a day none of them will ever forget.

Everyone knows there are different kinds of teachers. The boring ones, the mean ones, the ones who try too hard, the ones who stopped trying long ago. The ones you'll never remember, and the ones you want to forget. Ms. Bixby is none of these. She's the sort of teacher who makes you feel like school is somehow worthwhile. Who recognizes something in you that sometimes you don't even see in yourself. 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 won't be able to finish the school year, they come up with a risky plan—more of a quest, really—to give Ms. Bixby the last day she deserves. Through the three very different stories they tell, we begin to understand what Ms. Bixby means to each of them—and what the three of them mean to each other.

Available formats-
  • OverDrive Read
  • EPUB eBook
Languages:-
Copies-
  • Available:
    1
  • Library copies:
    1
Levels-
  • ATOS:
    5.2
  • Lexile:
  • Interest Level:
    MG
  • Text Difficulty:
    4

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Awards-
About the Author-
  • John David Anderson is the author of many books for young readers, including Sidekicked 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. You can visit him online at www.johndavidanderson.org.

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from April 25, 2016
    Three sixth-grade boys embark on a tragicomic quest to do something special for their beloved teacher, who has announced that she won’t be able to finish out the year following her cancer diagnosis. Upon learning that Ms. Bixby is in the hospital and this is their last chance to see her, best friends Topher, Brand, and Steve concoct a plan to skip school, acquire certain supplies, and spring Ms. Bixby for one last day of fun. But as good intentions collide with reality, the three are forced to adapt their plan and confront the possibility of defeat. The narrative unfolds in humorous yet insightful ways, illuminating Ms. Bixby’s influence on the students’ personal and scholastic lives and emphasizing the power that a good teacher, mentor, or friend can have. Topher’s rich imagination, Steve’s sharp intelligence, and Brand’s common sense keep the rotating voices distinct and the story lively. Anderson (The Dungeoneers) skillfully balances realism and comic exaggeration in an emotionally rich tale that holds no miracles, other than the small human kind. Ages 8–12. Agency: Adams Literary.

  • Kirkus

    April 1, 2016
    Determined to give their hospitalized teacher a worthy "last day," three sixth-grade boys skip school and persevere on an impossible quest, deepening their friendship and discovering inner courage they didn't know they had. Ms. Bixby was one of the "Good Ones"--the kind of teacher you pay attention to and who pays attention to you. For each of the three narrators in this moving story, she meant something special. Topher, Steve, and Brand feel unappreciated at home: white artist Topher's parents are busy working; Japanese-American Steve feels inferior to his perfect sister, who meets his father's high standards; and white Brand has shouldered adult responsibilities because his paraplegic father is too depressed to do household tasks. Alternating chapters chronicle their efforts to acquire an expensive cheesecake, a bottle of wine, and a large bag of french fries for a celebratory picnic in the park across the street from the hospital where Ms. Bixby, who recognized their strengths, is being treated for pancreatic cancer. Not surprisingly, their mission is not entirely successful, but, like Atticus Finch, they see it through. Anderson's dialogue is realistic, and his choice of first-person narration gradually reveals each boy's history and personal growth. His characters are believable 12-year-old boys. The urban setting is appropriately diverse and gritty, and humor and pathos are nicely balanced. Sad and satisfying in just the right amounts. (Fiction. 8-12)

    COPYRIGHT(2016) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • School Library Journal

    Starred review from September 1, 2016

    Gr 4-6-In a school filled with instructors who are either Zombies (old and boring), Caff-Adds (jittery), Dungeon Masters (cruel), or Noobs (overachievers), Ms. Bixby stands out as one of the Good Ones. Topher, Steve, and Brand all have their reasons to treasure their sixth grade teacher. Readers find out early on that their beloved Ms. B. has cancer and has to leave school immediately. The boys come up with an elaborate plan to honor her. In a pilgrimage as involved as Dorothy going to see the Wizard of Oz, the "Nerd Patrol" ditch school and travel to Ms. B.'s hospital in hopes of throwing her the farewell party of her dreams complete with cheesecake, wine, and Beethoven. In alternating chapters, we learn just why it is so necessary for each boy to partake in this adventure. Topher, the artistic one, hasn't been valued much by his distracted family. His self-worth is bolstered when he realizes Ms. B. has lovingly kept a file of all of his drawings. Brand's dad, who is disabled, is dependent on his son. When Ms. B. notices the stress Brand is under, she takes him on weekly shopping dates, providing nurturing time while they get groceries. Ms. B. defends brainy Steve when his overly strict dad complains about his grades and unfairly compares him to his perfect sister. During the immensely humorous and touching journey, the boys discover their own bravery and the strength gained through true friendship. VERDICT This story provides a full-spectrum, emotionally satisfying experience that will have readers laughing, crying, and everything in between. As Topher would say, this is one frawesome (freaking awesome) book.-Diane McCabe, John Muir Elementary, Santa Monica, CA

    Copyright 2016 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • DOGO Books ellsworth2424 - The subject is sad, a teacher who announces she is leaving early during the school year because she's sick. But, the story is a good one -- a group of kids who want to make that last day special. They go to great lengths to show Ms. Bixby how much they care and what she means to them.
  • Soman Chainani, New York Times-bestselling author of The School for Good and Evil "Kids won't just love this book. They need it."
  • Gary D. Schmidt, Newbery Honor winner and author of Okay For Now "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."
  • Gordon Korman, New York Times-bestselling author of Ungifted "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."
  • Tricia Springstubb, author of Moonpenny Island "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!"
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    HarperCollins
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