Ms. Bixby’s Last Day by John David Anderson follows three friends on their journey to give a final farewell to their beloved teacher, Ms. Bixby. This is one of the 2019 Nutmeg Nominees.
Friends include Steve, a brilliant student living in the shadow of his “perfect” older sister. There’s Topher, the creative-minded artist of the group, and Brand, the “tough guy” with a challenging family dynamic that he keeps to himself. Each boy has his own reason for loving Ms. Bixby, and these individual reasons become apparent throughout the story.
Ms. Bixby shares her diagnosis of pancreatic cancer with her sixth grade class. She ends up hospitalized before her scheduled last day which pushes the boys to take matters into their own hands. They strive to give her the perfect last day by skipping school to gather all the things she loves. This journey becomes the bulk of the story, as they eventually get to Ms. Bixby and enjoy a final special moment.
There is no doubt that Ms. Bixby is a special teacher and these characters create an unlikely and entertaining friendship. Despite the positive Bixbyisms (motivational quotations) and some comical moments, this story left me feeling depressed. I am curious to hear kids’ opinions after reading this, as I think it will affect each reader very differently.