Review / The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary

20220306ma_0416Book: The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary (2016)
Author: Laura Shovan
Genre: MG, Novel in Verse

Opening lines from the book …
Yo, Notebook.
I am your poet.
I will fill you with words.
I don’t mind writing
a poem to our teacher,
some rhymes
Ms. Hill will feature
in our fifth-grade book.


1) This book is written poems. One poem for each day of the year. I found it very interesting that this book goes from the beginning of the school year to the end of the year, only skipping holidays and weekends.

2) I love how the students get to know their (old?) hippie teacher, Ms. Hill. How they draw inspiration from her days when she protested. Their protest is about the closing of their school.

3) The student that probably is the most memorable is George Washington Furst. And that’s not a surprise as he goes on to be a natural class leader. Maybe it’s also his name!

4) The illustrations at the beginning of the book is really helpful for keeping track of the 18 kids in the class. Most books about classrooms really feature only six or seven students in a classroom. (More on this later.)

5) I did like how there are different styles of poetry used throughout the book. AND the author has a key to the different types of poems used at the back. This would be great for a teacher who wanted to use this book in a poetry unit!


1) Back to the list of kids in the class. I think there’s a reason why authors usually only feature six or seven students. Many of the kids in this book were on the forgettable-side, and I had to keep reminding myself WHO they were. That said, I thought it was a worthy experiment!


I really enjoyed this book overall. I liked getting to know this class of gutsy kids and teacher. I highly recommend!



Have you read this book? What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Note: I’m posting this for Greg Pattridge’s Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday


8 thoughts on “Review / The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary

  1. I remember reading this one and at first I struggled with the story telling format. Soon enough though it captured me as the days and weeks of the school year unfold. Thanks for featuring your review on MMGM.


  2. Love this first novel by Laura Shovan. I use all her novels for mentor texts. She’s a great poet and shares her writing, teaching students of all aged in Maryland. Please give Laura another chance by reading A PLACE AT THE TABLE, her latest MG novel, my favorite cross-cultural contemporary novel.


  3. I read this one and enjoyed it. I like having books in formats like this for kids that are looking for them in the library. I also liked that the book covers the whole school year. Some characters definitely stayed with me more than others. 🙂


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