cover image Ms. Bixby’s Last Day

Ms. Bixby’s Last Day

John David Anderson. HarperCollins/Walden Pond, $16.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-06-233817-4

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. (June)