Beautiful Answers to a Child’s Questions in Last Stop on Market Street

BookendsLynn: Ever have one of those moments where you discover you HAVEN’T done something you really thought you had? Sadly, that happens to me all the time and this is one of them. We read the lovely picture book, Last Stop on Market Street (2015) when it was first sent to us a loooooog time ago and loved it. Somehow our blog post never got written. All I can say is that it has been an exceptionally busy year and I truly hope most of our readers are way ahead of us on this one!

Each complaint is answered, lovingly and wisely,
in a way that helps CJ to see the everyday wonders
of his world.

Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Pena“How come?” is CJ’s constant refrain to his grandmother as they make a bus journey across the city after church. How come they don’t have a car, how come his friends don’t have to go where they are going every week?  Each complaint is answered, lovingly and wisely, in a way that helps CJ to see the everyday wonders of his world. His Nana doesn’t answer the complaints directly, instead directing CJ’s attention to the bus driver’s magic tricks, the musician who gives them a beautiful song during the ride, the rainbow above the old building, and the friendly faces at the soup kitchen. Matt de la Peña’s lovely text flows with the rhythms of the vibrant city, reflecting what CJ’s Nana sees, allowing young readers to experience CJ’s change of perspective in a gentle way. I love Christian Robinson’s deceptively simple illustrations with their bright colors, too. They extend the story and add to its strength with sweetly subtle depictions of the city’s rich diversity.

Ours is a nation built upon the strengths of diversity, a country made strong by the immigration of those seeking freedom to work and thrive. In the current political climate with powerful people clamoring for our borders to be closed, there has never been more need for a book like Last Stop on Market Street with its quiet reminders to be “witnesses for what is beautiful” around us.



About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

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