Title: Last Stop Market Street
Written by: Matt de la Peña
Illustrated by: Christian Robinson
Published by: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 2015
Themes/Topics: grandmothers, gratitude, diversity, communities, imagination, urban story
Suitable for ages: 3-6
CJ pushed through the church doors, skipped down the steps.
The outside air smelled like freedom, but it also smelled like rain, which freckled CJ’s shirt and dripped down his nose.
After church every Sunday, instead of messing around at home like his friends, CJ takes a bus trip across town to a special place with his nana. This grandmother is so classy in the calm upbeat way she counters CJ’s common childhood gripes about not having things others have or having to go to a dirty part of town. Nana shows CJ the beauty of what they have, how a blind man can ‘watch the world with their ears’ or catching a glimpse of a rainbow above the soup kitchen in the dirty part of town. The relationship, journey and destination are rich with diversity and and spirit.
Why I like This Book:
- One of my favorite YA (he has written other picture books too) authors paired perfectly with one of my favorite illustrators! (Christian Robinson also did GASTON by Kelly DiPucchio, JOSEPHINE: THE DAZZLING LIFE OF JOSEPHINE BAKER by Patricia Hruby Powell, and THE SMALLEST GIRL IN THE SMALLEST GRADE and the same simplicity and ADORABLE facial expressions are found in all these picture books).
- Lengthy text for a younger picture book, which feels totally appropriate to the story.
- Many wonderful child-friendly moments and speech (raindrops on your nose, older kids with nicer stuff than you, “Nana, how come we don’t got a car?”)
- It is set in a vibrant diverse urban neighborhood that could be any city but makes me think of San Francisco.
- Beautifully paced with a slow rhythm and lyrically written.
- An awesome grandmother – calm, thoughtful, full of love and optimism.
- Vivid, bright illustrations that I think will be particularly appealing to very young children even before they can fully engage with the story.
- An outing to a soup kitchen. How awesome is that for a kid!
Pair with NANA IN THE CITY for discussions about diversity and neighborhoods.
Take your preschoolers on public transport and do a trip to a soup kitchen.