Last Stop on Market Street / by Matt de la Pena. 5.2.2016

G.P. Putnam’s Sons ISBN 9780399257742

PRI PS-Grade 3 Rating: 5

Matt de la Pena, author of five young adult novels and an earlier picture book, pens another award-winning picture book, Last Stop on Market Street.

In Last Stop on Market Street, CJ and his nana ride the bus across town every Sunday through the busy city, sharing the experience of serving others in a soup kitchen. After church, while they ride the bus, CJ begins to ask why they don’t have a car, why they volunteer every week, and why that part of the city is so dirty. Nana patiently answers him. At the last stop, they get off the bus and his nana says, “Sometimes when you’re surrounded by dirt, CJ, you’re a better witness for what’s beautiful.” This sums up the book–CJ is learning to see beauty around him, even when it isn’t obvious.

Christian Robinson illustrates this book with “acrylic paint, collage, and a bit of digital manipulation.” The quality of the illustrations is evident in the nomination of Last Stop on Market Street for the 2016 Caldecott award.

Because de la Pena wrote a story celebrating the relationship between a grandson and his grandmother, this book has broad appeal to readers, young and old alike. His story includes people of color (and a variety of color!), different walks of life, urban settings, abilities and disabilities, from one part of town to another. Even at the soup kitchen, the people are diverse.

Highly recommended for public and school libraries. Winner of the 2016 Newbery Medal, Last Stop on Market Street also earned these accolades: 2016 Caldecott Honor Book, 2016 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Book, New York Times Book Review Notable Children’s Book of 2015, and Wall Street Journal Best Children’s Book of 2015.

Carol R. Gehringer, CLJ