Ms. Bixby’s Last Day by John David Anderson

Published by Walden Pond Press 

Summary:  Topher, Steve, and Brand have had a good year in sixth grade with Ms. Bixby, one of the Good Ones, according to their system of rating teachers.  So it’s a horrible shock to learn that their teacher has cancer and will be out for the rest of the year.  There’s a farewell party planned for her one Friday, but she ends up in the hospital a few days before.  The three boys decide to skip school and visit her, picking up items along the way to give as gifts.  Most of the story takes place that Friday, told in the alternating voices of the three boys.  There are many adventures along the way, and each boy gradually reveals why Ms. Bixby has been extra special to him during their sixth-grade year.  Have the Kleenex handy for the poignant final chapter when the boys finally connect with their teacher at the hospital, and for the bittersweet epilogue.  320 pages; grades 4-7.

Pros:  The three boys are interesting and engaging main characters, each one with his own set of problems that are hinted at early on, but only slowly revealed to the reader.  Ms. Bixby proves to be an amazing teacher who has, unknown to the other two, reached out to each boy and changed his life in some significant way.

Cons:  In the scene at the hospital, the writing gets a little overwrought; Ms. Bixby occasionally seems too good to be true.

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