De La Pena, Matt (2015). The Last Stop on Market Street. New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons.
CJ and his nana discuss his longing for more in life as they travel through the city on a bus after church. This routine trip triggers CJ ‘s foul mood as he pouts and asks why they don’t have a car, an iPod, and more. His childlike wishing and wondering about the world is easily relatable to all readers. After many questions and many inspirational answers from his nana (including a favorite “Sometimes when you’re surrounded by dirt, CJ, you’re a better witness for what’s beautiful”), they arrive at their destination—a soup kitchen where they serve food to those in need every week.
This sweet story is full of childlike wonder that is easily conveyed in the vibrant and simple pictures full of deeper meaning. Its valuable lesson about appreciating what we have, stopping to take in the beauty we see every day but take for granted, and helping others is a very important one that isn’t overdone so as to overwhelm the story itself. Each character brings something new and unique to the story. Even the musical interlude further enhances and develops the magical undertones of the story and its message of being present in the moment.
From School Library Journal: “The urban setting is truly reflective, showing people with different skin colors, body types, abilities, ages, and classes in a natural and authentic manner. Robinson’s flat, blocky illustrations are simple and well composed, seemingly spare but peppered with tiny, interesting details.”
Gather other Caldecott medal/honor books:
-This Is Not My Hat ISBN 0763655996
-The Invention of Hugo Cabret ISBN 0439813786
-They All Saw a Cat ISBN 1452150133
Use as an introduction to a lesson on volunteerism