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The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  1,503 ratings  ·  360 reviews
Laura Shovan’s engaging, big-hearted debut is a time capsule of one class’s poems during a transformative school year. 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.

Eighteen kids,
one year of poems,
one school set to close.
Two yellow bulldozers
Hardcover, 227 pages
Published April 12th 2016 by Wendy Lamb Books/Random House
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Average rating 4.05  · 
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Brooks Benjamin
Jul 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

There comes a time in every reader's life when they must get
A certain novel which by definition does not fit
Inside their comfy world of what they typically do read,
But manages somehow to turn into a book they need.

I will not lie, the rhyming style of novels put in verse
Was something I tried to avoid. They frightened me at first.
My introduction to this world just so happened to be
The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary.

Right as I
S.M. Parker
Jul 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
*Deep, glorious sigh* I have such a book hangover from this beautiful middle grade debut. Shovan wrote her entire book in a series of poems, all brimming with unique characters, humor, determination and pride.
I smiled fully at the richness of personality in verses like:
"Some mornings
my words are clumsy.
They bump into each other.
They've got as much rhythm
as an octopus
doing the chicken dance."

The book explored so many amazing historical events and people, The March on Washington
Peter Monn
Jul 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This was such an amazing elementary school book. I wish I had read it years ago with my mom. So endearing. Check out my full review on my booktube channel at ...more
Aug 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I love novels in verse, and this one offered such a wide array of poetic form that it was truly impressive. The reader can't help but follow each student's story with interest as they face the dilemma that their school may shut down forever--a truly frightening prospect for students of any age! Perfect for readers who'd like to explore verse with a heartfelt story, Shovan's debut will grab students' attention and hold it as they wait to find out if this will be THE LAST FIFTH GRADE OF EMERSON EL ...more
Abby Cooper
Jul 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
What a wonderful book! As others have said, all eighteen characters are phenomenal, and it's pretty much impossible to choose a favorite. Ms. Hill's class is extremely diverse in every sense of the word; there are students who speak different languages, who follow different religions, who come from vastly different socioeconomic backgrounds. In other words, it's totally representative of a typical classroom in our world. I love that so many students will be able to see themselves and their frien ...more
Jul 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I had the opportunity to read an early copy of THE LAST FIFTH GRADE OF EMERSON ELEMENTARY, and I am so glad I did.

Oh my goodness, this book was absolutely wonderful, and I was so sad when it ended. (I actually paused in my reading after the "third quarter" of the year because I didn't want their 5th grade year to end.) Laura Shovan is a masterful poet. Through her poetry in the voices of 18 (!) different, wonderfully unique kids, she has made their world and their journeys come alive. Every sing
Heidi Heilig
Nov 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
So my new favorite first line ever is in Laura Shovan's THE LAST FIFTH GRADE OF EMERSON ELEMENTARY--voice and character and rhythm all in two words! (which words? you have to read to find out!) And the rest of the book did not disappoint. I was teary eyed at page two but giggling again soon after, and OMG MS. HILL!

It was a true joy getting to know each student through their poems, and you feel for all of them as the larger story unfolds. Some poems stand out in my memory as my absolute favorite
Carolee Noury
Jul 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book! How I wish it had existed when I was in grade school.

Shovan's ability to bring 18 5th graders to life through various styles of poetry is magnificent.

That we're journeying with them through the normal trials and tribulations of growing up, with pressures and losses unique for some and universal nonetheless--loss, change, fears, while the entire group is saying goodbye to elementary school and the school building itself is remarkable.

This is a unique book with plenty to smile at, chee
Victoria Coe
Jul 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I was fortunate to receive an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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
Kathleen Glasgow
Feb 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I love, love, loved this book. So did my son, who turned down the latest chapter in THE GOBLET OF FIRE so we could finish this book. How could you not love a novel-in-verse from the point of view of fifth graders? Such a lovely book that isn't afraid to introduce difficult subjects to young kids: divorce, homelessness, and race. Shovan does an excellent job with voice: each student comes alive, individual and distinct. This would be a wonderful book to bring to a classroom as a way to get studen ...more
Monica Tesler
Apr 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I was fortunate to read an ARC of this book, and I adored it! I loved how the author included so many different kinds of poems. Each character was unique and fully developed, and I was interested in all of their perspectives. I also thought the world building was great--I could easily picture the class, playground, crossover to the middle school, etc. Not to get into spoiler territory, but I found the ending satisfying and realistic. The additional content in the back of the book was excellent. ...more
Lee Malone
Aug 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
What 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.
Ashley Blake
Nov 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: middle-grade
Adorable! I loved the diverse perspectives, handled with authenticity and sensitivity, and adored this inside look into this fifth grade class's community! LOVE! ...more
Kali Wallace
Jul 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is an absolutely delightful story told through a series of lovely, heartfelt poems. Every student's voice is unique and interesting in its own way. Through their poems we get to watch them grow and change and adapt over the course of the school year, as they deal with not just the eventual closure of their school, but old friendships breaking up and new ones being made, parents divorcing or being deported, family members falling ill, crushes and disappointments and triumphs and so much more ...more
Lois Sepahban
Aug 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I was lucky to read an advanced copy of THE LAST FIFTH GRADE OF EMERSON ELEMENTARY.

I enjoyed getting to know the eighteen students in Ms. Hill's classroom, and I was so impressed with how their unique characters were developed in their poems. Each student's voice is so different and so clear.

This book should be in every classroom library. Friendship, democracy in action, and poetry--there's so much to love about THE LAST FIFTH GRADE OF EMERSON ELEMENTARY.
Kathy MacMillan
Sep 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I received an early copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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.
A.E. Conran
Nov 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I have just finished this ARC from work and I really believe it will be a godsend to teachers and kids alike. A verse novel with a diverse and very recognizable cast of kids, who decide to try and save their school through civil action. I can already think of people to whom I will recommend this book: teachers wanting to bring new, inventive and fun poetry ideas into the classroom (there are fabulous resources at the back); all kid poetry lovers of which there are many; parents looking for chara ...more
Book Riot Community
Rioter Karina Glaser recommended this audiobook as one of the best of 2016 on the Book Riot end of year audiobook round-up, and I’m so glad I took the recommendation. The story is told through the poems of a fifth grade class dealing with the impending closing of their school – in addition to more day-to-day problems that are no less serious or personal. The poetic nature made the audiobook was one of my favorites I’ve ever listed to – 7 narrators doing 18 different voices bring the entire class ...more
Elly Swartz
Jan 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Timing is everything. How lucky I was to kick-off National Poetry Month with Laura Shovan’s debut novel, THE LAST FIFTH GRADE OF EMERSON ELEMENTARY. There was so much to love in this story, written in its entirety in poems from the students of Ms. Hill’s class. Shovan is a master of poetry and does an exceptional job capturing 18 unique voices in a myriad of different poetic styles. She manages to give the reader insight into the students’ individual lives and challenges, while capturing their d ...more
Jenn Bishop
Jul 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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 throu ...more
Ruth Lehrer
Jul 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Who'd have thought such simplicity would pack such an evocative punch?
The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary is novel in verse, a tricky thing to pull off but Shovan composes a variety of poetic forms without breaking a sweat. Helped out by the little illustrations, all 18 characters have distinct personalities. The class is multicultural, poignantly intimate, and funny. I found myself having fifth grade flashbacks; the sudden memory of going to a Washington D.C. peace march with a sign tha
Scott Fillner
Mar 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary is a great book for all middle grade readers. It has multiple characters, but is laid out in a way that is not confusing for readers to keep track of which voice is writing. The poetry in prose is done very well and is connected so that the story moves along at just the right pace. Each character has a different voice, which is refreshing.

At the end of the book there are some great resources for readers and educators. I will most definitely use this bo
Apr 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ya
Every classroom needs this book. I adored it!
Apr 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: All readers, young and old
This delightful novel in verse tells the story of one school year at Emerson Elementary School, which is scheduled to close at the end of the year to make way for a brand new supermarket. Ms. Hill, a much-loved fifth grade teacher (who has a mysterious old picture of herself dressed as a “hippie” on her desk), has assigned her eighteen students to write a series of poems in their Writer’s Notebooks over the course of the school year. These poems are to be collected and placed in a time capsule ...more
Apr 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Incredible. I was not ready for this one to end.

I HAVE to find a way to use this in my classroom next year. It had so much educational value, besides being beautiful, moving and pleasing to read.

Each page is a different student author and his/her poem. The book is also divided into quarters like a school year, so cute!

The kids rotate their voices (a la Because of Mr. Terupt) and their voices are so profound. My favorites were Katie and Norah, but it was hard to pick just too (my heart also br
Nov 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I was able to participate an ARC of The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary and promised to give my honest review. I also should add that the author is a friend and our daughters attended elementary school together. I even have a great picture of both of them with their own Ms. Hill at their Moving Up ceremony. So here is what I honestly think. I know nothing at all about poetry. I do not read it. But don't let that stop you from reading this novel because this middle-grade book told in prose ...more
Mary Ann
Dec 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 4th, 5th, 6th, audio
Laura Shovan's novel in verse, The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary, is full of distinct voices that prompt us to think about different students' unique perspectives. It's one my students are enthusiastically recommending to one another.

Through these short poems, Shovan captures the distinct, unique voices of each student. The class is diverse in many ways--racially, ethnically, economically, and more. At first, I wondered if I would really get to know the different students since each pag
Amy Allgeyer
Sep 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I just loved this book to pieces! It's written in verse, and tells the story of the last fifth grade class of a school that's about to be torn down. The poems are all written by kids in the class. What's amazing are how the voices (eighteen of them) are all so distinct. Even from the brief lines we see of each child, we get a clear feeling of their characters. Each voice is so unique! I also love the way Shovan works details of the kids' lives into the poems. They're struggling and celebrating t ...more
Oct 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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
Mark Vukovic
Jul 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My name is Abby. I'm 11, and I thought that this book was incredible! It was happy, sad, and moving, all at the same time. I read it in one sitting! I highly recommend this book. There are so many great characters who all have such perfect personalities. Each and every one of those eighteen fifth graders have such original points of view. I couldn't put this book down! ...more
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Laura Shovan’s debut novel, THE LAST FIFTH GRADE OF EMERSON ELEMENTARY (Random House Kids, 2016), won multiple awards and is the 2018 Arnold Adoff Poetry Award for New Voices honor book. TAKEDOWN, her latest book for kids, is about the first girl on an all-boys’ wrestling team (Random House Kids, 2018). It is a Junior Library Guild and a PJ Our Way selection. A PLACE AT THE TABLE, a new middle gra ...more

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