Last Stop on Market Street

Book review by
Patricia Tauzer, Common Sense Media
Last Stop on Market Street Book Poster Image
Tender story of Nana showing grandson city beauty via bus.

Parents say

age 3+
Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 6+
Based on 1 review

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Offers several lessons about finding beauty in the simple, routine things of life; illustrations foster respect for diversity. It's great for kids who live in the city and ride the city busses or for those who have never had the experience. It acknowledges kindness, compassion, and inequality and is a valuable book for promoting anti-bias education, especially among young readers.

Positive Messages

Riding the bus can be fun, friendly, and adventurous. Getting to know different kinds of people will enrich your life. We don't all need cars or iPods; instead, we are richer if we look for adventure, friendship, and music in everyday experiences, such as on a crosstown bus ride. People such as Nana, who encourage others to see the beauty around them, can change the world.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Nana is a strong, positive, caring African-American grandmother who sees beauty in regular people and ordinary things. She is friendly to everyone, compassionate and understanding, and uses experiences on the bus trip to encourage her grandson to find the same beauty in places he never thought of looking. CJ is a pretty typical little boy but listens, learns, and is becoming just like his grandmother. He's curious, cooperative, respectful, and polite.

Violence & Scariness

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. 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byBabynutroll January 26, 2021

Worst book ever written

This book is terrible. I started reading it to my 4 year old and stopped on the 3rd page and just read the rest to myself. Is this what we are trying to teach o... Continue reading
Parent of a 7-year-old Written bybrysong October 21, 2020

My 2nd grader's "mentor text" at school for slice of life story

Powerful, simple, from the point of view of a common grandson/grandmother family, with such a strong role model in the grandmother in resiliency. Validates po... Continue reading
Kid, 9 years old November 13, 2016

Really really good!

Last Stop on Market Street is a really good example for little kids to be more aware about the people who cannot pay for food. Also it teaches kids to grow up... Continue reading

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? 

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love picture books and diverse characters

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

Top advice and articles

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate