Last Stop on Market Street
Written by Matt de la Peña
Illustrated by Christian Robinson.
G.P. Putnam’s, 2016, 32 pp.
Immediately after church services each Sunday, CJ and his nana take their weekly trip on the bus. CJ’s trip is as much a spiritual passage as it is a physical trip. CJ and nana encounter a variety of sights and sounds on the bus that help CJ see and hear the world through his nana’s cultivated understanding of the world. Initially CJ questions why he must make the trip each week, but in the end, appreciates the trip in a meaningful way. The story is filled with a love of diversity that unfolds organically over the course of the story. CJ learns from his nana how to find beauty in unexpected places.
Known for trying all sorts of mediums and techniques, Christian Robinson’s illustrations combine paint and collage to create distinctively beautiful, bold, and colorful images. The artwork works well with the story to convey the book’s important lesson of finding beauty in all kinds of places and within all kinds of people. Robinson’s paintings contribute to the story’s simplicity and his use of many shapes and colors provide for a visually enticing read.
There are many ways to pair this book. Books highlighting life on a bus could Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus (Mo Willems, 2003), any of the Magic School Bus books by Joanna Cole, which combine information with a narrative, or I Spy: A School Bus (Jean Marzollo, 2003), which is an informational text. If looking for stories about young people and their grandmothers, good choices would be Abuela (Arthur Dorros, 1997), Mango, Abuela, and Me (Meg Medina, 2015) or Snowed in with Grandmother Silk (Carol Fenner, 2005) . Two books highlighting music include The Bat Boy and his Violin (Gavin Curtis, 2001) or Hana Hashimoto, Sixth Violin (Chieri Uegaki, 2014). Uncle Willie and the Soup Kitchen (DyAnne Di Salvo Ryan, 1997) speaks to community service and taking care of one another. Novels involving community action that would pair nicely with Last Stop on Market Street include Sid Fleischman’s (2004) wonderful novel Seedfolks or The Seventh Most Important Thing by Shelley Pearsall (2015).
Matt de la Peña began publishing in 2005 with his first novel, The Ball Don’t Lie. Since then Matt has won acclaim as a young adult novelist, and in January 2011 de la Peña ventured into picture books with, A Nation’s Hope: The Story of Boxing Legend Joe Louis, illustrated by Kadir Nelson. Last Stop on Market Street, is de la Peña’s second picture book and won the 2016 Newbery Book Award. He has also published short fiction and essays in newspapers and journals including: The New York Times, NPR.org, The Writer, Pacific Review, and the George Mason Review.
Christian Robinson makes his home in San Francisco and works out of a warehouse divided into artist studios. He earned a BFA in Character Animation from the California Institute of the Arts in 2008. He has illustrated several books and won the Ezra Jack Keats in 2014 for Rain by Linda Ashman. He received a 2016 Caldecott Honor Award for his work on Last Stop on Market Street.
Megan McCaffrey, Governors State University, University Park, IL