A look at “Last Stop on Market Street”

I am so grateful for our awesome Multnomah County Library. I love to pick up  “Lucky Day!” books – the most current, hot titles without waiting on hold forever. This week, my eyes were drawn to Last Stop on Market Street a picture book written by Matt de la Peña, illustrated by Christian Robinson.

I’m always on the lookout for good books for my preschooler, with sophisticated storytelling and beautiful art. And most especially, ones that feature people of color. Last Stop has it all!

The story follows CJ and his grandma as they ride the bus from church through their bustling city to regular post-church destination, revealed in the final pages. For me, three things make this book a cut above the average picture book:

  • The storytelling is rich and layered. It’s neither too simplistic or over-explanatory as some children’s books tend to be. It feels colorful, whimsical, playful. In one scene, as a man starts playing his guitar on the bus, a blind man who has befriended Nana and CJ teases, “To feel the magic of music, I like to close my eyes.” Nana, CJ and a friendly dog also close their eyes, too.
  • The “cast” of the book is extremely diverse, with the protagonists a black child with his black grandma. Throughout the pages are a wonderful palette of colors, ability, age, dress. But the story doesn’t have to talk about diversity or hit you over the head with it. It simply tells the story of a city, and shows all kinds of different people that you would actually see in a city. Hooray!
  • Spoiler alert. CJ and his grandma arrive at their destination at that last stop on Market Street: a soup kitchen. The story ends showing the two serving folks at the center. I love how this book gives you just enough story to be a conversation starter. There’s no judgement or lesson here. Just a sweet day-in-the-life depiction of an intergenerational relationship, a city, a community.

More about the book in this NPR interview with de la Peña and Robinson. De la Peña also wrote a sweet post on Brightly about the significance of diversity of characters for young children.

Want to buy Last Stop on Market Street and support this blog? As a Powell’s Books Partner, we’ll will receive a small portion of any sales that come directly from links on this page. Thanks!

Last Stop on Market Street
by Matt De La Pena
Powells.com
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