Last Stop on Market Street
Last Stop on Market Street
Matt de la Peña, illus. by Christian Robinson
ISBN 9780399257742
Putnam/Penguin, 2015.
5 stars
Keywords: city-life community family generosity gratitude intergenerational last-stop-market-street matt-de-la rituals

Last Stop on Market Street
by Matt de la Peña, illus. by Christian Robinson

With the precision of a poet, Matt de la Peña (The Living) chronicles a boy's heartwarming Sunday morning routine with his nana. Christian Robinson's (Gaston) uplifting palette and culturally diverse cast brightens the rainy-day backdrop.

A bustling, inclined city street that suggests San Francisco hosts a rainbow of row houses and a squat church with citrus-bright stained glass. Out of the church's front doors bursts CJ: "The outside air smelled like freedom, but it also smelled like rain." Where CJ spies "all this wet," his nana sees an opportunity to pull out her orange umbrella. When he asks why they don't have a car, she tells CJ, "We got a bus that breathes fire, and old Mr. Dennis, who always has a trick for you." Robinson paints a dragon on the side of the bus, and the driver pulls a coin from behind CJ's ear. CJ whines about their destination, but Nana builds anticipation about Bobo, the Sunglass Man and Trixie's brand-new hat.

Author and artist create a microcosm of society in that bus, and the serendipitous interactions of unlikely companions. As CJ pines for an iPod, a guitar player starts plucking his strings. A blind man offers a tip for listening, and Nana and CJ take it. Little by little, CJ's attitude shifts: "He wondered how his nana always found beautiful where he never even thought to look." By story's end, readers, like CJ, may well gain a whole new appreciation for the many gifts right in front of them.

This review first appeared in Shelf Awareness for Readers.
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