I am a boy-mom. (Or at least I was until we welcomed a baby girl into our house almost 2 years ago. 2?!? How is she almost 2? Wait… where was I? Ah, yes, boys.) I am inclined to fall in love with realistic fiction centered on boys, probably because I can see my own son living these adventures and learning those early-life lessons. I felt especially enamored recently with the 3 friends that narrate Ms. Bixby’s Last Day. Topher, Steve, and Brand are 6th graders, finishing out their last year of elementary school.
Ms. Bixby is one of those rare teachers that is a “Good One”. She has a pink streak in her hair and spouts endless inspiring quotes, or “Bixbyisms”. She sees what’s special in each of her students and helps them to see it too. But Ms. Bixby suddenly takes ill and can’t finish the school year. When she has to miss her good-bye party at school, our three heroes decide to skip school and take the party to her in the hospital.
Each boy’s perspective colors the nature of their scheme. Topher, the artist and story-teller, is playing out a military-grade mission in his mind. Brand is determined to do for Ms Bixby what he never could do for his own injured father. And Steve is just worried about how much trouble he’s going to be in for ditching school.
Their quest is fraught with peril, as good adventures are wont to be, and the boys find themselves, and their friendship, put to the test. Will they be able to give Ms. Bixby the last day she deserves? It’s an incredibly moving story, both laugh-out-loud funny at times, and sob-inducing at others. This boy-mom highly recommends!
Anderson, John David (2016). Ms. Bixby’s Last Day. New York: Walden Pond Press.