You know what’s fun? Sharing something new. Today is especially new – a cover reveal for a debut author.
It’s a middle grade novel-in-verse about a group of kids on a Save Our School mission. The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary arrives in spring of 2016.
Travis: How did this book come about?
Laura Shovan: I started working as a poet-in-the-schools in 2000, after teaching high school English. When I visit elementary schools, the more wildly enthusiastic I am about writing poetry with the kids, the more they fall in love with language. I turn into the prop-comic of poetry. During a writing residency, I have students take off their shoes and write odes to them, taste baby powder (it’s a sensory exercise), and engage in something called snakey reading.
With The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary, I wanted to capture the joy I see when students are writing in a community. That’s when something really special happens. They tell stories about their lives, share family traditions, and write about the people and places they love. I wanted the book to reflect the discoveries children can make when they’re actively writing.
The classic verse novel Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters was a big inspiration. I love how layered the persona poems in that book are. They combine to tell the story of one community. I think the story of Ms. Hill’s fifth grade and their fight to save Emerson Elementary could only be told by the whole class. Just like a real classroom, everybody has something to contribute.
Here’s a first look at the cover, illustrated by Abigail Halpin:
(Click to enlarge)