NITTY GRITTY DETAILS
- Title: Last Stop on Market Street
- Author: Matt de la Péna
- Illustrator: Christian Robinson
- Awards: Newbery Medal, Caldecott Medal, Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Book, A Junior Library Guild Selection, A Winter 2014-2015 Kids’ Indie Next Pick
Matt de la Peña is the New York Times Bestselling, Newbery Medal-winning author of six young adult novels: Ball Don’t Lie, Mexican WhiteBoy, We Were Here, I Will Save You, The Living, and The Hunted. He’s also the author of the critically-acclaimed picture books A Nation’s Hope: The Story of Boxing Legend Joe Louis (illustrated by Kadir Nelson) and Last Stop on Market Street (illustrated by Christian Robinson). Matt received his Masters in Fine Arts in creative writing from San Diego State University and his Bachelors from the University of the Pacific where he attended school on a full basketball scholarship. de la Peña currently lives in Brooklyn NY. He teaches creative writing and visits high schools and colleges throughout the country. (http://mattdelapena.com/bio/)
Check out this video of de la Peña surprising a busful of elementary students with his reading of Last Stop on Market Street (he also provides a few insights to the story and reveals his thinking):
This video is a fun, upbeat book talk featuring the author and illustrator:
A bright, wonderful story, Last Stop on Market Street tells the story of a young boy spending the day with his grandma. Celebrating the wisdom of elders, de la Péna’s writing is lyrical with both its beat and personification.
Getting on the bus, de la Péna hints at the racist structure that existed on buses by highlighting the fact that they choose to sit up front. As the young boy asks about why his friends don’t have to ride a bus, don’t have to go where they are going, and don’t have to do what he is doing, his grandma continues to exemplify patient wisdom by pointing out the things his friends are missing, especially when the child encounters a blind man and is curious about what the man’s life is like.
Arriving at the last stop on Market Street, they get off the bus and the boy inquires about the grime of the neighborhood; his grandma sagely advises that he look for beauty.
Reaching their destination, the grandma and grandchild help serve food to those who are not dirty, but beautiful indeed.
- Contemporary Realistic Fiction
- Picture Book
Last Stop on Market Street is a joy to read. de la Péna’s poetic writing holds its own with the masterpieces illustrator Christian Robinson created. Several examples of figurative language stood out to me:
TEACHING & LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES
As mentioned in the “Author’s Language” section, there are multiple opportunities for writing mini-lessons in this novel. Additionally, there excellent thematic lessons as well: differences allow us to interact with the world differently, honor the wisdom of our elders, and the importance of serving others.
Without preaching or being overt, this novel is a humble story about serving others and being appreciative of our differences. Lesson opportunities abound for reading, writing, listening, and moral development. Fantastic book for K-12!
WORDS OF CAUTION
Beware: you will want to read all of Matt de la Péna’s and explore all of Christian Robinson’s illustrations!
People and nature all treated with respect with an eye on honoring one another. Again, this novel doesn’t lecture the reader about how to be respectful; instead, it simply shows respect.
The novel culminates with the grandma and grandson reaching their destination: a soup kitchen. It is never described or clarified where the two are, only showing them in a cafeteria-like room with them standing behind large trays of food. Readers may be unaware of what they are doing or where they are if s/he/ze is ignorant of the look and purpose of a soup kitchen. What a great learning opportunity and service opportunity!
A variety of people are included in this book, although most are side characters if not solely there in picture form: African Americans, European Americans, a blind person with a seeing eye dog, a person in a wheelchair, and people both serving and eating at a soup kitchen.