De La Peña, Matt. Last Stop on Market Street. Illustrated by Christian Robinson. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2015.
Many of the children’s books I featured in my blog are older books. I write about them, because I have wonderful memories associated with them. When I pick up a book, I remember the first time I read it either to one of my daughters or to a group of children. I have been lucky to have read many fine books over time. I am delighted to add this new book to my collection. Eventually, I will get to read it to special young person.
This is a very new book to me. I picked it up on a whim at this year’s Texas Book Festival. I am ever in pursuit of Caldecott and Newberry award winners. Not only did it win these two awards, but it also won the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor. I brought it home and placed it on my shelves for a future blog post. Just after the first of the year, I bought myself a 2018: Desk Diary Literary Datebook from Barnes and Noble. It is chock-a-block full of all sorts of literary bits and bobs. A couple of weeks ago, I was looking it over for interesting facts and I found one about this book. My diary informed me that on January 11, 2016 Matt De La Peña became the first Hispanic winner of the John Newberry Medal award. It was kismet! It was a sign! This must be my next book blog.
Wonderful words and praiseworthy pictures come together for a charming story about CJ and his Nana. I already have something in common with CJ. He calls his grandmother, Nana and that what I called my grandmother and my girls called theirs. Every week after church, CJ goes with his Nana to help at the soup kitchen, which is near the last bus stop on Market Street. He is young and restless. Why do they have to walk to the bus stop in the rain? Why don’t they have a car? He has a few other laments. For each question, his strong and sunny Nana has a calm and thoughtful answer. She guides him to ideas and thoughts outside of himself. A question about why they don’t have a car, brings this reply, “Boy, what do need a car for? We got a bus that breathes fire, and old Mr. Dennis, who always has a trick for you.” It took me a couple of readings and examination of the illustrations to find the reference to the bus that breathes fire. It is an illusion to the fire-breathing dragon Christian Robinson has illustrated on the side of CJ and Nana’s bus.
This is a wonderful book about how we see things about us. CJ, with Nana’s help, learns to hear and see the wonder of the world that surrounds them. Whether you’ve ever ridden a bus with your Nana or not, this is a wonderful book. Read it and remember all the times someone who loved you, helped you see the bigger picture.