Monday, May 23, 2016

Last Stop on Market Street  

by Matt de la Pena
Illustrated by Christian Robinson
Published 2015

Awards:  Numerous-Incredible-Major! 2016 Newbery Award Winner, 2016 Caldecott Honor Winner,  2016 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Winner , AS WELL AS-
–New York Times Notable Children’s Book of 2015 –Wall Street Journal Best Children’s Books of 2015 –NPR Best Books of 2015 –Boston Globe Best of 2015 –A Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year –A Winter 2014-2015 Kids’ Indie Next Pick –Finalist for the E.B. White Read Aloud Award –BookPage Best Picture Books of 2015 –Horn Book Best Book of 2015 –Atlanta Parent Best Books of 2015 –Raleigh News & Observer Best Children’s Books of 2015 –Miami Herald Best Children’s Books of 2015 –2015 Horn Book Summer Reading List –Scholastic Instructor “50 Best Summer Books” –School Library Journal’s Top 10 Latin Books list –Center for the Study of Multicultural Children’s Lit “Best Multicultural Books of 2015” –Chicago Public Library’s Best of the Best Books 2015 –NYPL’S 100 Books for Reading and Sharing

To say that Last Stop on Market Street is an award winner on many levels is the understatement of the year!  If you need more convincing that this, indeed, is an exceptional book, I don’t know what it would be!

Since I’m a ‘picture book fanatic/junkie’ , the fact that a picture book won the Newbery this year is very thrilling!  Double the fact, that I advocate for using picture books as mentor texts-this is heavenly to me!!

Last Stop on Market Street would be an excellent read-aloud for all students of all grades levels.  The character development and relationship between Nana and grandson is one that many students can relate to. One of the many themes of the book—to respect all people no matter what their circumstance- is one that we would hope to give all of our students at all ages.

Last Stop on Market Street is also an outstanding example of ‘small moment’ or ‘seed’ writing. The story takes a seemingly mundane event—riding a city bus to a destination—into an experience exposing multiple stories of the different people who are on the bus who interact with each other during that small moment.

Last Stop on Market Street would especially be an outstanding mentor text to use for older students (grades 3-8) who are studying writer's craft. de la Pena’s writing is multi-layered with inferences and meaning which model for the young writers how to take a reading audience beyond the text. de la Pena’s use of words and manipulation of ‘correct’ sentence grammar  is very effective in his storytelling and is to note for students to emulate, as well.

I know many readers of my blog have also used Last Stop on Market Street  successfully as a mentor text this year.  Please feel free to add your suggestions in the comments. "It takes a village"...and we all learn from each other!

Book Talk
CJ and his Nana have finished at church and head to the bus stop. The bus will take them to their next destination of the day. Readers don’t know what that is yet—but from CJ’s reaction and questions—it’s obvious that he does not want to go!

CJ being very inquisitive and thoughtful- continues to question Nana about everything they do and see.

Nana’s responses are full of wisdom, gentleness and strength. And her responses are always accompanied with her deep, loving laughter.

Some favorite questions and answers:
CJ-‘How come we gotta wait for the bus in all this wet?’
Nana-‘Trees get thirsty, too. Don’t you see that big one drinking through a straw?”

CJ- “How come we always gotta go here after church? Miguel and Colby never have to go nowhere.”
Nana- “I feel sorry for those boys. They’ll never get a chance to meet Bobo or the Sunglasses Man.”

CJ- “How come that man can’t see?’
Nana-“Boy, what do you know about seeing? Some people watch the world with their ears.”

And my very favorite:
CJ- “How come it’s always so dirty over here?”
Nana- “Sometimes when you are surrounded by dirt, CJ, you’re a better witness for what’s beautiful.”

Nana makes the bus ride rich and meaningful by respectfully interacting with the various bus riders from different walks of life. As CJ feels sorry for himself for not having a car or an iPod, Nana converses with the blind man, gets the guitar man to play and somehow manages to get the whole bus involved in the song that he is singing. CJ is even taken out of his pouting and is taken in by the beautiful music being played.

When the bus driver calls out ‘Last stop on Market Street”, CJ and Nana get out and head towards their destination. The sidewalks are crumbly and there is graffiti everywhere. 

Despite initially not wanting to have come and being surrounded by poverty, CJ does see a beautiful rainbow arching over the Soup Kitchen—which is where the two are heading to work and serve food to the homeless population.

When they arrive, they do see their friends Bobo and Mr. Sunglasses-who are in line waiting for food.  CJ and Nana get started in their work and CJ does finally declare that he is really happy that they have come. So is Nana.

Suggested Uses As a Mentor Text:
Book Genre: Realistic Fiction
Reading Workshop Strategies:  Summarizing, Connections, Inferring, Analyzing, Visualizing
Writing Workshop Genre and Strategies:  Narrative, Small Moment, Elaboration-use of words and language, Character Development, Strong Female

Matt de la Pena’s website:
*** On his website, Matt de la Pena mentions giving his most requested workshop in which he talks about how he went from being a reluctant reader to having his MFA and becoming an author--an author who has won the Newbery Medal.  

Christian Robinson's website:

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