Author Matt de la Peña is serious about writing. He’s written seven young adult novels (as of 2021) and five picture books. His second picture book was Last Stop on Market Street, and it got a lot of attention.
Most Newbery Medal winners are middle grade or young adult fiction. Once in a blue moon a picture book gets the attention of the Newbery Medal committee, and this book turned out to be a winner. After reading it I confess my heart was deeply touched and I’m happy the book won the medal.
The illustrations by Christian Robinson also were noticed, and the book was named a Caldecott Honor Book. It also received the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor.
My experience of reading Last Stop on Market Street
I wanted to read this ever since it won the Newbery Medal in 2016 but we never connected at a library. I’m glad I didn’t (finally) agree to fork over the money for a personal copy for my home library until 2021 because in September 2020 my home burned in a forest fire, and most of my book collection disappeared along with the dwelling. Anyhow, during my forest fire recovery I decided to start collecting books again and Newbery books are on the top of my list. I received the book today, February 19, 2021, and immediately sat down to read it.
Wow, can I just say, “Wow?” I really love this story! A little boy leaves church with his grandmother and they get on a bus together. The story is about the people they meet on the bus and the destination … that “last stop on Market Street” where they’ll get off the bus that day. More than that it is about the boy’s relationship with his wise and insightful grandmother. She really steals the show. I ordinarily think of children’s books as having a main child character who resolves his or her own problems, but in this case the main child character gets a steady stream of helpful thoughts and ideas from his wonderfully white-haired grandmother.
I’m also an illustration appreciator. These illustrations are spectacular, colorful, bright and perfectly illustrative of what we might expect to see on an inner-city transit bus. Well done!
Would a child like it?
I believe any child would be delighted with this picture book. A child living in the countryside (like where I am) might look at those pictures and wonder about the environment of the city and interior of the bus. Children would want to know what riding a city bus might be like.
Of course city children would already probably know what riding a bus would be like, and this book would feel very familiar indeed. The variety of characters, the friendly bus driver, the urban buildings are all perfectly portrayed in the words and pictures of this book.
Is the book worth buying?
Are you a Newbery book collector with a deep appreciation of picture book art? If so, it only makes sense to add this beautiful book to your library. If you’re looking for a book to buy for a child, say preschool age up to about age seven, this book would make a good gift.
Here’s my Amazon link: Last Stop on Market Street
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