A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Matt de la Pena's tender picture book Last Stop on Market Street, which won the 2016 Newbery Medal as well as a 2016 Caldecott Honor and Coretta Scott King (Illustrator) Book Award for illustrator Christian Robinson, is aimed at younger readers but holds valuable, uplifting life lessons for all ages. Without being heavy-handed or didactic, it teaches the value, and fun, of acceptance, generosity, appreciation, and imagination in a less than perfect world. Nana, a strong, graceful African-American grandmother, believes in finding beauty in the world around her. And she lives by what she believes. By answering her grandson's questions, she gently imparts her wisdom to him on a crosstown bus trip that takes them from church to the soup kitchen where they help out each Sunday after church. The language is simple and poetic, the warm-hued artwork vibrantly energetic, and the tone lovingly accepting. This is a quiet book with an amazingly powerful message about learning to live comfortably amid the diversity of ordinary life.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
As CJ and his grandmother hop on the city bus and head across town, he begins to ask questions: Why don't we have a car? Why do we have to stand out here in the rain? Why can't that man see? Why is it dirtier on this side of town? Nana, in all her wisdom, gently answers his questions, helps awaken his imagination, and shows him that beauty is all around him, nestled in the routine things of city life. All he has to do is look, and listen. Their bus "breathes fire," the driver does magic tricks, the man may be blind but he "sees" with his ears and nose, and so on. The characters on the bus are an assortment of ages, sexes, and ethnicities: one with whole-body tattoos, one holding a jar of butterflies, a guitarist, a dog, and others. Without being didactic, this story teaches the reader, along with the boy, the value of getting out into the world and connecting with it, appreciating rather than fearing diverse types of people, and trying to look at it all through eyes and ears that are opened wide. Also, perhaps, we learn that we do not need things to make us happy.
Is it any good?
LAST STOP ON MARKET STREET is a crosstown bus trip we all should take. Author Matt de la Pena's words carry the story smoothly and poetically along, with just enough varied examples to engender thoughtful engagement.
Exceptional artwork by award-winning illustrator Christian Robinson fills out the story and adds energy and a whole other dimension to the social importance of the book. Together, words and artwork convey the book's important lessons much like Nana teaches CJ: quietly, and tenderly. By the time the grandmother and her grandson arrive at the soup kitchen, the boy realizes how glad he is that they came. Readers will feel much the same way once they've read this book.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about each of CJ's questions. How is riding a bus different from driving places in your own car? How is listening to live music different from listening on an iPod? What do you think of Nana's answers? What does CJ learn on the bus trip? If you ride the bus, do you see the same things CJ sees? Why do you think CJ changes his mind about going to the soup kitchen on the bus each Sunday?
What did you learn from the illustrations? What kinds of people are on the bus? What did the illustrator add to the story by drawing so many kinds of people?
What do you think Nana means when she says, "Sometimes when you're surrounded by dirt, CJ, you're a better witness for what is beautiful." Do you agree with her? How does that change the way CJ looks at the neighborhood at the end of Market Street?
- Author: Matt de la Peña
- Illustrator: Christian Robinson
- Genre: Picture Book
- Topics: Great Boy Role Models, Great Girl Role Models
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons
- Publication date: January 8, 2015
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 3 - 5
- Number of pages: 32
- Available on: Hardback, Kindle
- Awards: Caldecott Medal and Honors, Coretta Scott King Medal and Honors, Newbery Medal and Honors
- Last updated: June 19, 2019
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