The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary

The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary

by Laura Shovan

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The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary by Laura Shovan

An award-winning, big-hearted time capsule of one class’s poems during a transformative school year. A great pick for fans of Margarita Engle and Eileen Spinelli.
Eighteen kids,
one year of poems,
one school set to close.
Two yellow bulldozers
crouched outside,
ready to eat the building
in one greedy gulp.
But look out, bulldozers.
Ms. Hill’s fifth-grade class
has plans for you.
They’re going to speak up
and work together
to save their school.
Families change and new friendships form as these terrific kids grow up and move on in this whimsical novel-in-verse about finding your voice and making sure others hear it.

Honors and Praise:

Winner of a Cybils Award in Poetry

Winner of an Arnold Adoff Poetry Honor Award for New Voices

An NCTE Notable Verse Novel

A Bank Street College of Education Best Children’s Book of the Year

An ILA-CBC Children’s Choice

Nominated for the Pennsylvania Young Reader’s Choice Award, the Wisconsin State Reading Association Children’s Book Award, the Rhode Island Children’s Book Award, and the Great Stone Face Award (New Hampshire), Lectio Book Award Master List 

“This gently evocative study of change in all its glory and terror would make a terrific read-aloud or introduction to a poetry unit. A most impressive debut.” —School Library Journal

“Sure to inspire the poet in all of us, young and old.” —Mark Goldblatt, author of Twerp

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780553521399
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Publication date: 04/12/2016
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 698,645
Lexile: NP (what's this?)
File size: 27 MB
Note: This product may take a few minutes to download.
Age Range: 8 - 12 Years

About the Author

Laura Shovan has been a writer since the second grade. After graduating from NYU's Dramatic Writing Program, she taught high school and worked as a freelance journalist. She is now an educational consultant for teens with learning difficulties. She edited two poetry anthologies and is the author of the Harriss Poetry prize-winning chapbook Moutain, Log, Salt, and Stone. Laura and her family live in Maryland, where she is a longtime poet-in-the-schools for the Maryland State Arts Council. This is her first novel. Visit her online at and on Twitter at @LauraShovan.

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The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
KidlitFan2016 More than 1 year ago
From start to finish, The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary is completely delightful in every way. Through the voices of 18 very real and very lovable fifth graders, we experience their individual stories as well as the collective story of their class during a very momentous year in the history of their school... in verse! The students' poems are fun and entertaining, insightful and sad, and always full of heart. Each one is a window into the character's life, hopes, and fears. Together the poems create a rich, charming story that will stay with me for a long time. I'm rooting for every single one of these kids! Highly recommended for all middle grade readers.
KathyMacMillan More than 1 year ago
You will fall in love with the kids of THE LAST FIFTH grade. Each one emerges as an individual, and the class dynamics becoming achingly clear as each poem brings new perspectives. You'll pull for these kids to succeed in saving their school.
MsVerbose More than 1 year ago
I received an ARC of this book for an honest review. There's something special about novels-in-verse. The emotions that wash over you as you read, sometimes crashing down like a giant wave, and sometimes tickling your toes in the sand. THE LAST FIFTH GRADE OF EMERSON ELEMENTARY is no exception. This book is a beautiful celebration of the individual. No matter what we see of a person on the outside, there are always deeper, hidden struggles and dreams. I want my children to read this. To remember kindness is always better. To seek to understand others, even when it's hard. To fight for the things that matter to them, even when they feel powerless. This book teaches all of that, without ever being preachy.
MarisaR More than 1 year ago
When the fifth grade class at Emerson Elementary gets word their school is going to be torn down and replaced with a grocery store, their teacher, Ms. Hill, encourages them to raise their voices through poetry. We learn the personal and collective stories of eighteen diverse and unforgettable characters, some struggling and some not struggling with the fate of their school. The poems range from heartbreaking to humorous to hopeful to happy, all combining to make this story of finding your voice a truly special debut that I won’t forget.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Novels in verse are not my usual kind of book, so I wasn't sure what to expect. Well, this one has convinced me to read more like it! The story is told in such a clever way that gives us insight into each character. And the author did an amazing job of giving every character his/her own unique personality, characteristics, and wants. Everything flows so well with a variety of different kinds of poems. The name, picture, and title at the top corner of each page was a helpful (and adorable!) reminder as I got to know the characters, but by the end I could tell who the author of the poem was without even looking. :)
QuinnenDonnelly More than 1 year ago
How much can change in one school year? For the eighteen kids in Ms. Hill's fifth-grade class, the answer is: a lot. Knowing that their school, Emerson Elementary, is slated to be torn down at the end of the year to make way for a supermarket, the class is instructed to write poems for a time capsule. With these poems, representing a variety of poetry forms, these fictional kids pour out their hearts in confessions that are at points heartbreaking, at others, comical, but moving and honest throughout. Their struggles are diverse: divorce, a parent going overseas in the army, a sick grandparent, mean girls, financial hardship--and their joys, equally so: being the object of a crush, finding a new friend, having your opinions heard, and so much more. And then there's Ms. Hill, your ordinary teacher nearing retirement... or maybe not? Is there more to Ms. Hill than meets the eye? I loved seeing how Ms. Hill's past plays into these kids' present. As these eighteen kids contend with their own issues in the midst of putting up a last-ditch fight for their beloved elementary school, they do a lot of growing up and learning in the process. This book is every bit as delightful and specific as its cover, which features the eighteen students whose poems we read. Shovan excels at creating distinct voices and situations for these characters. In books with two or more characters, sometimes it's easy to have a favorite one, or feel like you want to skip past some of the stories, but in this case, there was not one story thread that bored me. All of these kids felt so genuine and real. The language in the poems is so spot-on for this age group that at times, I felt like I was reading a poetry collection from a local fifth grade--there was that much honesty in the representation. It's very clear that Shovan knows her audience, and I can't wait to see this book in the hands of many, many, many kid readers. It'd also be a fantastic choice to use in the classroom; the extensive back matter provides many jumping-off points for lesson-building. If you can't tell from the review, I love, love loved this book, and I can't wait to read whatever Laura Shovan dreams up next!
MGReader More than 1 year ago
hat a creative, thoughtful gem of a book! Told through poems written by 18 students facing the closing of their school, each different voice shines as they share their own stories and perspectives on everything from their fears about middle school to first crushes to more. An absolutely lovely book that is worth reading and re-reading again and again. I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.