Laura Shovan’s Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary + Poetry Friday Roundup

Please help yourself to some matzo with cream cheese and strawberry jam.

 

HAPPY POETRY FRIDAY

AND

HAPPY PASSOVER!

Today we’d like to extend our heartfelt congratulations to Laura Shovan on the official release of her first middle grade verse novel on April 12! Hooray for Laura!!

The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary (Wendy Lamb Books, 2016) is a captivating story told entirely through a series of poems written by one fifth grade class over the course of a year. We meet 18 diverse, distinctive, quirky, totally believable kids navigating the changes that come with friendships old and new, first crushes, and other relatable challenges such as divorce and stepfamilies, death and illness of family members, being the new kid, homelessness, assimilation and identity.

Though each has his/her own hopes, dreams, and concerns, these students form a special bond over one big change that affects them all: their beloved school is facing closure at the end of the year. Inspired by their teacher’s political activism in the 60’s, they are determined to make their voices heard to help save Emerson.

Laura skillfully brings these fifth graders to life using a variety of poetic forms (sonnet, limerick, haiku, concrete, free verse, ode, fib). Her portrayals ring true and the mix of personality types makes for an interesting classroom dynamic. It all feels very familiar — either we see parts of ourselves in these characters, or we have friends just like them.

Readers will nod knowingly at the queen bee with workers in her orbit, the introvert with writer chops, the natural leaders who run for student council, the tomboy and fashion plate, the spiky-haired non-conformist, the high energy, expansive piece-of-work with a ready sense of humor. We instantly get caught up in their lives and empathize with situations happy, sad, funny, frustrating, surprising, and empowering. It’s wonderful to see how these kids grow and change as they stage a sit-in, circulate a petition, and get their first taste of democracy in action. Each individual voice counts for something, but collectively they can do more.

Today I’m happy to share a poem by Rachel Chieko Stein (smart, quiet, tries hard to fit in but gets teased by the popular kids). One classmate tells her she can’t be Jewish, to which she replies, “But I’ve never even been to Japan.” Way to shatter a stereotype!🙂

This just happens to be a Passover poem, and yes, it’s about food! Who wouldn’t love a poem with both chocolate and soup in it? Thank you, Laura!

*

MARVELOUS MATZO

Passover is my favorite holiday.
I love matzo for lunch, spread thick
with cream cheese and strawberry jam.
I love how the matzo crunches
around the soft cream cheese
and gooey jelly.

I promised my dad I would eat
at the allergy-free table during Passover
even though people eat bread there,
because the janitors
keep that table really clean.
But when I sit at the allergy-free table,
my friends think I am mad at them.

“Why aren’t you sitting with us?”
“Why do Jewish people eat weird food?”
“You have to eat that for a whole week?”
“Don’t you miss bread?”

I told my dad I wanted a thermos of soup
instead of a delicious matzo, cream cheese,
and jam sandwich for lunch.
He took out a recipe
covered with chocolate streaks.
“Aunt Jennie’s Matzo Candy.”
We buttered the matzos, baked them
until they were hot, spread them
with chocolate and butterscotch chips.

Melting, crispy, buttery, sweet. Mmmm.
Dad said, “I think this is the right medicine.
See the bottom of Aunt Jennie’s recipe?
To stop teasing, administer
one dose to classmates.”
I didn’t see anything written on the recipe.
But when I shared Aunt Jennie’s candy at lunch,
no one said matzo was weird.

~ Posted by permission of the author, copyright © 2016 Laura Shovan. All rights reserved.

*

Mmmmm! If you’re not craving some matzo candy right this minute there’s something seriously wrong with you.

Thank goodness Laura’s friend Jennie Steinhauser agreed to share her matzo candy recipe with us! I imagine one can tweak this according to preference, using dark, milk, or semi-sweet chips, maybe a little chopped nuts, candied ginger, or coconut flakes sprinkled on top? All good. As Rachel’s father said, it’s just the right medicine.

Jennie’s Chocolate and Peanut Butter Matzo Candy

“Aunt” Jennie Steinhauser’s Matzo Candy (Serves 1)

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup butter
  • 6 oz. chocolate chips
  • 6 oz. peanut butter chips
  • matzos

Preheat oven to 450. Melt butter, add sugar, and bring to a boil. Boil for 3 minutes. Stir. Pour over matzos on foil-covered cookie sheets. Bake 5-7 minutes. Take out matzos and pour peanut butter chips over them. Let set 30 seconds and spread with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula. Repeat with chocolate chips. Stick in the fridge for 30 minutes or more, then break into pieces. Eat a whole bunch. Lie on the couch. Eat some more.

*

 

Here in the Alphabet Soup kitchen we decided to whip up a batch using butterscotch chips just like in Rachel’s poem. I used about 3-1/2 sheets of matzo to fit my nonstick-foil-lined, rimmed baking sheet, but this amount of toffee could easily coat 5 sheets of matzo. I confess to increasing the chocolate chips to a full cup (8 oz.), which I layered over the melted butterscotch pieces. Also used brown sugar instead of white, and added chopped pecans. I think Rachel and I could become fast friends.🙂

Wrap your lips around a piece in honor of Laura!!

*

When you’re done licking your fingers, please leave your links with Mr. Linky below. Don’t forget to put the title of the poem or book you’re sharing in parentheses after your name. Enjoy the poetic goodness being shared in the blogosphere and do make some marvelous matzo to share with family and friends this weekend. For those who celebrate, have a beautiful Passover!

*

 

*

THE LAST FIFTH GRADE OF EMERSON ELEMENTARY
written by Laura Shovan
published by Wendy Lamb Books/RandomHouse, April 2016
Middle Grade Verse Novel for ages 8-12, 256 pp.
*Back matter includes Descriptions of Poetic Forms, Model Poems + Poetry Prompts

Click here for an Educator’s Guide prepared by Poetry Goddess Sylvia Vardell!

♥ Check out these wonderful reviews at A Year of ReadingThe Nerdy Book Club, and TeacherDance.

♥ Enjoy this cool Playlist for the book at Fragments of Life.

♥ Don’t miss this interview with Laura at From the Mixed-Up Files of Middle Grade Authors.

♥ There’s a nice audio clip from the book here.

*

THANK YOU FOR WRITING THIS WONDERFUL BOOK, LAURA!

WE LOVE IT!

Today’s Special: Emerson Stew (seasoned with 18 herbs and spices and simmered for an entire year to folk music).

 

*

🎉 WILL’S WORDS BOOK GIVEAWAY WINNER! 🎉

The Flaming Youth had a merry time frolicking with M. Random Integer Generator, wizard with numbers and owner of 3,412 codpieces (he’s quite the fashion plate). After consuming approximately 492 rose cakes and 66 gallons of ale, M. Generator had the winner’s name (painted on a 16th century banqueting dish resting atop Juliet’s balcony in Verona) teleported to the Alphabet Soup kitchen.

We are pleased to announce

that the winner of a brand new copy of WILL’S WORDS

is

*

*trumpet, cornett and sackbut fanfare*

*

*

*

🌹🌹 MARIA GIANFERRARI!! 🌹🌹

CONGRATULATIONS, MARIA!!

Please send your snail mail address to receive your book.

A thousand thanks, one and all, for all your comments!

*

———————————————————–

Copyright © 2016 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

54 thoughts on “Laura Shovan’s Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary + Poetry Friday Roundup

  1. Congratulations and every blessing to Laura!!! Profuse thanks to Jama for hosting, facilitating early posting, and especially for featuring Laura’s verse novel and mouth-watering celebration chocolate matzo candy. God bless you! Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for hosting! I never thought to make matzah candy with a mix of chocolate and peanut butter (I guess because so many people don’t eat legumes during Pesach, although it’s now “allowed” by the Conservative movement as well as the Reform movement). Sounds excellent!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. My daughter makes a variation with saltine crackers. The last time she made a batch, she spread vanilla ice cream between chunks for super-crunchy ice cream sandwiches!

    Today, at the library, we got a delivery of The Last Fifth Grade… Perfect timing! I hope to read it once it has been cataloged and processed.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks for hosting–that looks a lot like the brickle recipe I shared here years ago. Except matzos instead of crackers. Fun! And I can’t wait to read Laura’s book. Congratulations, Laura, and thanks for hosting, Jama!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I’ve got my copy of Laura’s book but haven’t had a chance to read yet! (Ditto on the WILL’S WORDS you made me buy last week… – it’s gorgeous.)
    Love this poem you selected to share today. Thanks for posting and for hosting.

    SOOO thrilled for you, Laura – keep flying around in the clouds; you deserve it.

    (Now I’m hungry…)

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I’m so looking forward to reading Laura’s book! I attended her verse workshop at the MD/DE/WV SCBWI meeting last month & heard all about its orginis! Congrats, Laura!

    And how wonderful to discover at the end of the post that I’ve won a copy of Will’s Words!!! Thank you so much, Jama–I am so excited for this book!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I linked with the link-meister. I am excited to read this MG novel in verse. What fun. I like the passover poem, and the very food-sexy matzo recipe. Yum. Always a pleasure, a salivation-event, to visit your hallowed sites. Have a wonderful weekend, Jama.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Now that I didn’t win Will’s Words (sad), I will order it immediately! Thanks for the awesome review, Jama. I see that you know I’ve read & reviewed too. It is a marvelous story in verse. Laura is a clever poet, & I think has a few things to teach teachers about “knowing” their students. I appreciate the matzoh recipe too, will be a fun thing to make with the grand-girls. Thanks for hosting, too!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Matzo candy! LOOKS SO GOOD! And I am so excited for Laura’s book… she is a wonderful poet, and I know the book must be wonderful, too! Can’t wait to meet those kids. Thank you, Jama. xo

    Liked by 2 people

  10. This is a wonderful post today, Jama, all filled with delightful resources for Laura’s book and a yummy looking recipe to top off the celebration. I am going to pour over the resources, make that recipe, and get the book to read.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Oh yum! This looks a lot like the recipe I have but instead of matzo, I’ve used soda crackers. Matzo might work even better. Thanks for the recipe and the yummy description of Laura’s book, which is looking more enticing with each description / review (and I’m reading many). And thanks for hosting–If blogs could send a fragrance, yours would be mouth-watering!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Hey! That’s my toffee recipe — minus the peanut butter chips, and made with graham crackers instead of matzo! So fun to read about all the variations. Guess you can’t go wrong with buttery toffee!

    Laura’s book is a wonder. It will be my first read aloud of the year next year. I’m excited to introduce my fifth grade class to hers…and to novels in verse!

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Another feast for the senses, Jama! Thanks for hosting and for sharing some of Laura’s book. Congratulations, Laura! I can’t wait to dive into the book, hopefully with a plateful of matzo deliciousness at my side. Yum!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Thanks for hosting today, Jama, and sharing “Aunt” Jennie’s yummy sounding recipe. I read Laura’s wonderful book last weekend and can’t wait to share it with our 5th graders. I know they’ll love it as much as I did!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I am currently reading aloud Emerson School to my students. They are loving it. Laura Skyped with us a few weeks ago. What a gift! Your review and recipe were both delicious.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I adore this book, so wise and heartfelt and inspiring! Having taught fifth grade, it made me miss those days too, as Laura so perfectly captures a class of real multi-faceted people at that age. I make this dessert with saltines, and actually, I’m wanting to make some right now. Thank you for yet another mouth-watering post. I just love it here. xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  17. We can count on a tasty treat on Jama’s blog! I have been reading so much good stuff about Laura’s book. Lovely to see a sample served up here, alongside the very sweet treat. (I don’t think we even have butterscotch chips in Australia. Or peanut butter chips.) Thank-you for sharing, Jama, and hosting.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Jama, this cool visit with THE LAST FIFTH & Laura
    deserves to be in a school time capsule.
    My copy arrived just a day ago & will be my weekend treat.
    When it’ pops up on my blog I’ll want to reference today’s post & Linda’s also.

    Are there any other PF posts on THE LAST FIFTH? Would love to put in every stie. I know there is satisfaction ahead for the students who read in all the many years forward. Joy to super talented & super wonderful, Laura.

    On matzo treats – my writing partner Debra Katz sweetly introduced our writing group to her recipe a few years back. She cooks with the butterscotch
    crowd, which is a flavor dear to my heart.

    Thanks for hosting, too & now I’ll go & link Bookseedstudio to all this goodness.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Congrats to Laura! Can’t wait to pick that one up. And Jama, thanks for hosting and for offering, as always, a delicious post.🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Thank you for hosting once again, Jama. I absolutely love your posts every time– your combination of words, images, and FOOD is always totally delectable! Thanks for including a link to the educator’s guide I created for Laura’s book– I hope it’s helpful to teachers and readers. Her lovely book deserves a wide readership!

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Jama, a delicious post as usual. Thank you for sharing Laura’s book. I can’t wait to read it. My college roommate was/is Jewish, so I’ve enjoyed matzos ever since meeting her. And we did slather it with cream cheese and jam, though I was always partial to raspberry. I make a version of this candy with plain old saltine crackers. I’m not sure why I never thought to use matzos, but I’ll try this next time. I don’t use peanut butter or butterscotch, just good old dark chocolate and whatever nuts I’m craving.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Rachel was one of my favorite poets from Laura’s delightful book–I loved getting to know this terrific cast of characters through their poems. I’ve never made matzo candy before–but am going to this Passover (right now I should be making matzo ball soup!)

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Laura’s book sounds wonderful! Thank you for introducing this book to us, Jama, and for your delicious recipes. And THANK YOU for hosting Poetry Friday this week, too!

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Those recipes of yours are DANGEROUS, Jama! ANd congratulations to Laura on the release of her new book. I have been concentrating on my work for adults lately, but I FINALLY posted a poem (part of a series of bird confessions – yes, confessions of birds) over at The Drift Record.,

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Oops, I accidentally linked a separate post of mine at Books Around the Table today, rather than The Drift Record. Well, if you want to read that one, it’s #50 in the Mr. Linky links. The Drift Record poem links at #51. I think. Gad!

    Like

  26. Another delicious post! Congratulations to Laura and a huge thank you to you for hosting and making my mouth water again. My son and I are reading the book and enjoying it very much. We haven’t gotten to this one yet. I love a poem that shatters stereotypes.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Stopping by late, consumed yesterday with our Progressive Poem. I’m on the holds list for Laura’s book at the library and ooking forward to sharing it with my book club. I promise to get back soon to my April commitment of sharing 30 books of poetry. Thanks for hosting, Jama, and for the delicious candy recipe. Can’t wait to try it.

    Liked by 1 person

  28. After rereading this post, Jama, I see that my response must not have gone through back in April. Now I get to comment on your post filled with voice. I also want you to know that I created the matza, toffee-like treat and will be bringing some to my daughter and son-in-law this weekend (they just moved into their first home).

    Like

    1. Wonder why your other response didn’t go through. Glad you commented again to tell me that you made the matzo candy!! Hope your daughter and SIL enjoy it.🙂

      Like

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