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Pixie Pushes On by Tamara Bundy – Book Review

  • Title: Pixie Pushes On
  • Author: Tamara Bundy
  • Publisher: Penguin Random House/Nancy Paulsen Books
  • Release Date: January 14, 2020
  • Many thanks to Penguin Random House/Nancy Paulsen Books and Edelweiss+ for providing me an opportunity to read the book early!

RATING: 5 STARS!

In the 1940s, times are hard in the United States. Families struggle to recover from the Great Depression and World War II upends lives everywhere as soldiers go off to war and others go to work to support the nation. Prudence (Pixie) and her family struggle as well. After losing her mother two years prior, Pixie now tries to remain hopeful in the face of her sister’s illness. Pixie must navigate both challenging setbacks and uplifting moments. As she does, the support of her family and friends proves paramount and helps her learn valuable life lessons.

Tamara Bundy’s Pixie Pushes On is a refreshing upper elementary/middle grades narrative. While many new novels focus on present-day characters and present-day problems, Bundy’s narrative takes readers back to a seemingly simpler time. Yet, as Pixie’s story proves, times were far from simple during WWII. Perhaps by comparison day-to-day routines were simpler decades ago, but Bundy demonstrates the whole of a person’s life is always complex, regardless of time or place. Bundy’s characters shine in making this point, especially Pixie. She is far from perfect but takes her loved one’s advice to heart and slowly transforms throughout the story. Her development is appropriately paced and naturally developed, highlighting Bundy’s skill crafting relatable characters. Similar to the characters, the novel’s plot events also create a realistic portrayal of the time period. As a result, important lessons come to fruition in a powerful way. Bundy expertly balances the struggle to remain hopeful in difficult times and finding some of that hope in the end, and she does so without making the lessons learned in the process too preachy or perfect.

Pixie Pushes On is an intimate look at everyday Americans and their struggles on the home front during WWII. It provides a unique perspective on a time period often framed in literature by battles, Europe, and the Holocaust. Bundy’s story can be a wonderful way to incorporate choice in the classroom by pairing the novel with variety of others set in WWII. The cross-text connections and extension opportunities abound, making Pixie Pushes On an excellent addition to any upper elementary or middle grades classroom and curriculum.

Classroom Applications

  • Unit – Teach the novel for 6 weeks, incorporating literary and nonfiction analysis, extension activities, and projects.
  • Small Group Novel Study – Use novel for small groups or choice reading for various perspectives of the World War II era.
  • Project – If studying World War II in History class, use the novel as a project assignment.

Nonfiction Connections: The list below outlines topics that will enrich your students’ understanding of the novel.

  • World War II
  • Great Depression and Effects
  • Polio

Book Companions: The following are great books to pair with Pixie Pushes On. In parenthesis are the specific aspects students could explore when synthesizing across the texts.

  • Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk (Themes, Historical Content)
  • The Boy in the Striped Pajamas (Alternative Perspective, Historical Content)
  • The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker (Alternative Perspective, Historical Content, Character Connections)
  • Grenade by Alan Gratz (Alternative Perspective, Historical Content, Character Connections)
  • Number the Stars by Lois Lowry (Alternative Perspective, Historical Content)

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