February 22, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary by Laura Shovan | SLJ Audio Review

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redstarSHOVAN, Laura. The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary. 3 CDs. 3:15 hrs. Recorded Books. Jul. 2016. $51.75. ISBN 9781501925344. digital download.

shovan-lastfifthgradeGr 3-6 –When the land where their school is located is sold to build a supermarket, 18 fifth graders use poetry to tell the story of their loss. Each student has a unique voice reflecting personality, culture, and individual challenges. Some fight the change. Others embrace new possibilities. Soon they will be scattered to other schools. It is a year of final events, each commemorated by the students in their own ways and each recorded through poems that will be gathered in a time capsule. This presentation is beautifully performed by Jonathan Todd Ross, Kevin R. Free, Jessica Almasy, Almarie Guerra, Jill Frutkin, Cherise Boothe, and Rachel Botchan, who bring each child to life. The poems are short and evocative, encapsulating emotion in a few brief words. A final note provides further information about the poetic forms used in the book. Because many poems depend not only on their auditory but also their visual qualities, the audiobook is most effective when accompanied by the print title. ­VERDICT This is a tender, heartwarming homage to friendship, growth, and change that would be a terrific addition to classroom and library collections and offer a nice jumping-off point for poetry units in both primary and middle schools. [“A most impressive debut”: SLJ 3/16 review of the Wendy Lamb book.]–Teresa Bateman, Brigadoon Elementary, Federal Way, WA

This review was published in the School Library Journal October 2016 issue.