As 2016 draws to an end, I am frantically trying to read as many 2016 middle grade novels as I can before I move on to 2017 books. One book that I have been wanted to read for months was The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary. Donalyn Miller wrote a beautiful review of the book for Nerdy Book Club earlier in the year, Corinna Allen booked talked it on the Books Between podcast, and many of my Nerdy friends have been raving about it for months.
I’m not 100% sure why it took me so long to read the book. It probably has something to do with the fact that the book is told in poems from 18 fifth graders. I often struggle to keep 3 characters in a book straight in my head. 18 characters seemed pretty intimidating. Once I started reading, I quickly realized that juggling these 18 different personalities wouldn’t be as hard as I thought. The different voices felt like such an authentic representation of a classroom, that I found myself just attaching the faces of former students that reminded me of Laura Shovan’s characters. Before too long, I was no longer reading about Laura’s characters because I was reading about my students.
The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary made me appreciate my school, my students, my community, and own children a little bit more. It is a beautiful book that everyone should read. Everyone.