Fourth Grade Journey

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

Sunday, July 31, 2016

The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary by Laura Shovan

How I Heard About It:  This was a novel that had a lot of chatter on Twitter.  It was one of those books that I put on my TBR list right away, but took awhile for me to actually purchase and then to read.  I started at the beginning of the summer, but got distracted by other titles.  I got back to it yesterday and finished it late last night.  

What It Is About:  I did not realize that his novel was actually a collection of poems written by the classmates of a fifth grade classroom at Emerson Elementary.  At the beginning of the their fifth grade year, the students in the class learn that at the end of the school year, their school will be closed and turned into a grocery store.  Their teacher has them write a variety of poems in their notebooks on a daily basis.  The children in the class share their thoughts, their lives, and their worries in the poetry entries.  Each poem has a different format.  It is in these poems that the reader gets to know each member of the class.  Through the entries, they share ways they think they can stop the closing of their school, events happening in their own homes, and struggles and "happiness" they are experiencing with their classmates.  Each student in the class learns what it means to be responsible for themselves and for their classroom community.  

What I Thought Of It:  As I mentioned earlier, when I started the book I was surprised to see that the format was in poem entries instead of a traditional novel format.  I wasn't sure I would enjoy it, but I soon found out I was wrong.  It was a perfect way to tell the story.  There are many students in the class that write multiple poems throughout the book.  At first I had a hard time keeping track of each character and how they connected to the other characters.  Once I started to not worry about character names and just take in the story, it was such an enjoyable reading experience.  There are so many elements in the book that I can't wait to share with my fourth grade class.  This novel will definitely be used during the school year and most likely during the poetry unit I teach.  

Who Should Read It:  As I was reading the story, I kept thinking about what type of student would enjoy this book the most.  I think it would appeal to readers that enjoy short entries and are fans of poetry.  It is the perfect novel for young readers that don't enjoy, or can't handle, the traditional format of longer novels.  Readers in fourth, fifth, and sixth grade would be the perfect audience for the book.  I'm going to use it as a read aloud during the poetry unit we teach.  At the end of the novel are many poetry examples and samples that were used throughout the book.  I loved that these "extras" were included in the book.  Happy Reading!  

Rating:  4 STARS out of 5 Stars

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