Great Illustrated Books

Last Stop on Market Street

Matt de la Peña

G.P. Putnam's Sons Books For Young Readers
Pages : 32 pages
Suggested Ages: 3-5 years
ISBN: 9780399257742

Another Newbery-Award-winning picture book celebrating cultural diversity, differences, and community, Last Stop on Market Street provides a fresh perspective on the topic by providing wider context given to a young child by his elder grandmother.

Every Sunday CJ and his grandmother cross the city to attend church, before returning to their neighborhood along the same route. Along the way, CJ experiences universally understood touchstones of childhood, inspiring conversation with his grandmother about their economic and cultural "status" in the city.

CJ wonders why they don't have a car to take to church, or why their area of the city is "dirtier" or why he doesn't have gadgets to pass time on the bus like so many of his friends. Instead of scolding the inquisitive child, his grandmother takes the moment to impart sage wisdom on her grandchild, letting him know that ideas of beauty, cleanliness, fun, and fortune are truly in the eye of the beholder.

I applaud this picture book fro taking on a challenging topic, and for framing that topic in a setting that is universally recognizable and could only be undertaken by a child and his/her grandparent. We ride through a beautiful and bustling city (that could, in fact, be any major American town) and though his questions are seemingly large in scope, the grandmother's wisdom narrows that scope into a beautiful lesson within each page that I could not help but admire. The vocabulary is a bit complex, so I recommend a first reading aloud, but I found myself reciting the bits of wisdom communicated between this loving family in my own life in the days to come. This beautiful story will inspire you to take notice of the small details of your everyday life, and is a child's first lesson to finding the beauty in the ordinary, and acceptance and love for where they come from.

Reviewed by : Lawrence N. Caldwell

Themes : Family, kindness, acceptance

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Critics have said

"This celebration of cross-generational bonding is a textual and artistic tour-de-force." - Kirkus Reviews