Fourth Grade Journey

A Fourth Grade Teacher's Journey Through the World of Books

Monday, May 29, 2017

Posted by John David Anderson

How I Heard About It:  Ms. Bixby's Last Day was one of my favorite reads last summer.  I had read it right before #NerdCampMI and was lucky enough to get another copy signed by the author.  I knew it was going to be one of our class read aloud selections for this school year.  We actually just finished it last week and were lucky enough to Skype with John David.  I was excited to read his latest work of fiction and finished it last night.  

What It Is About:  Everyone knows middle-school kids.  They love to be social.  They love to use their cell phones.  They love to communicate.  Unfortunately, they also bully each other at times.  There are four boys at Branton Middle School who don't necessarily "fit in".  They do fit in with each other.  Frost, Deedee, Wolf, and Bench have created their own "tribe" even though they are quite different from each other.  After the students get out of control with their cell phones, the administration cracks down and BANS them from the school.  I know, can you image!  The four friends aren't sure how they are going to "talk" with each other without the use of their phone during the school day.  One of the boys begins to use post-it notes to chat with each other.  The post-it notes begin to show up on lockers, tables, and backpacks.  This new "trend" catches on and soon many of the students are "posting" notes all over the school.    While most of the messages are positive, some negative and hurtful notes begin to pop up around the building.  To add to the "drama", Rose shows up as a new student and works her way into this unique tribe.  The boys find themselves in new situations and realize life will never be the same as it was before their worlds went "posted."  

What I Thought Of It:  After the "buzz" about this novel, I was so excited to read it.  When so many readers score an ARC, it makes it difficult to wait for the actual release.  This story was well worth the wait.  I really enjoyed it.  I was a bit worried about loving Ms. Bixby so much, but found myself enjoying just as much.  One of the strongest aspects of the book were the four characters that it focused on.  I guess I should say five because Rose was just as important as the tribe.  The message of  different boys finding friendship, safely, and a place to land was so powerful.  I also found the theme of the power of our words to be one that needs to be shared with young readers.  My own class spent a lot of time this past school year talking about the messages we send with both our positive and negative words.  

Who Should Read It:  This is the PERFECT novel for readers in middle-school.  They will be able to relate to the story, the characters, and all the "action".  The book may appeal to boys a bit more than girls because of the four main characters, but this certainly doesn't mean girls wouldn't enjoy the story.  Plus, they have Rose and she is one heck of a female character.  Fourth, fifth, and sixth grade readers would also be the perfect audience for Anderson's newest book.  Of course adult readers who enjoy strong middle-school novels, then this is the one for them.  Happy Reading!  

Rating:  4 STARS out of 5 Stars

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