Monday, September 5, 2016

Ms. Bixby's Last Day

By Thursday, I imagine most schools in this country will have the halls filled with happy children and "six kinds of teachers in the world."  My guess is that you, like sixth grade teacher Ms. Bixby, are one of the Good Ones.

Filled with Bixbyisms (think Wonder precepts), white chocolate raspberry supreme cheesecake, carnations and Hobbit references, this is another back-to-school, in-the-middle-of-school, towards-the-end-of-school good one. A perfect read aloud for any time of year.  Even if you already have your first day read aloud, take it out in November or February, have kleenex available and you and your students will not be disappointed.  "You never forget the good ones" says Topher and like Miss Honey, Mr. Terupt and many others that came before and more that will follow, you won't forget Ms. Bixby either.

Three boys: the artist, Topher; new to the district after his Dad's accident, Brand; and genius, Steve. Three unique personal connections to Ms. Bixby.  And three different first person narrations of their take on excursion to visit their very ill teacher in the hospital.

Amidst this touching book are moments that you make you laugh out loud.  From cooties to a bakery named "Michelle's" run by a guy named Eduardo to McDonalds turned "Chez Mac's" this book has it all.  It is filled with life lesson quotes as the boys take their full on journey to the hospital, skipping school just to see the teacher that has made a difference in each one of their lives.  Here are just a few of the quotes:

"We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be." - Ms. Bixby (p.14)

"...when you are content to be simply yourself, everyone will respect you." - Steve saying what Ms. Bixby would say (p. 80)

"...stories are everywhere, just waiting to be found." - Steve sharing Ms. Bixby's wisdom (p. 94)

"The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease forever to be able to do it." - Ms. Bixby (p.168)

"...sometimes you're beat before you even get started, but it doesn't matter.  You keep going.  No matter what." - Brand saying what Ms. Bixby would say.

As I reread my notes, my eyes are starting to well up.  This is a good one.  Pick up some carnations and give them to a friend who needs them.  Then read this book and find out why carnations and no other flower.  Do something spectacular.  "Live every day as if it were your last."  But remember, "'s not the last day that matters most.  It's the ones in between, the ones you get the chance to look back on.  They're the carnation days.  They may not stand out the most at first, but they stay with you the longest."

Ms. Bixby's Last Day will stay with you for a long time and to keep it with you even longer, share it with some kids.  They'll thank you for it later.

A link to the great New York Times review is here.

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