In today’s post for the “31 Days of Children’s Books” series, I am talking children’s book awards. Namely, the Newbery Medal awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association. The Newbery is awarded to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.
This award is named for eighteenth-century British bookseller John Newbery. But ironically, to be considered for the award, books must be written for children by authors who are citizens or residents of the United States, published by an American publisher in the United States in English during the preceding year.
I stumbled on today’s book accidentally. I was talking with Priscilla, the other librarian at Jefferson High where I am doing a long-term sub job, and she was saying that author Matt de la Peña was going to be presenting here in El Paso on October 15. Sadly, I will be out of town…I know, AGAIN.
Because I have been mostly an elementary school librarian, I am not familiar with many of the YA authors popular with the high school crowd. Priscilla explained that he was the 2016 Newbery Medal winner and that we had his winning book in the Jeff library.
I located Last Stop on Market Street words by Matt de la Peña, pictures by Christian Robinson on the shelf.
Took it with me into the classroom to read while we “hid” this morning for a code-blue drill at school. I was immediately impressed that Last Stop is also a Caldecott Honor book (for its illustrations) and a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor book (given to outstanding African American illustrators of books for children and young adults that demonstrate an appreciation of African American culture and universal human values). This had to be a good book.
CJ and his nana leave church and head into a drippy, rainy day.
Although, their after-church routine is just that…routine, familiar…CJ begins asking ‘why?’ and ‘how come?’ about their usual Sunday afternoon activities.
“How come we gotta wait for the bus in all this wet?”
“Nana, how come we don’t got a car?”
“How come we always gotta go here after church?” Nana answers CJ’s questions with the precious patience of a grandmother. She gently suggests what he might miss if not for a wet afternoon, a bus ride with a group of strangers who have a moment in time to connect like friends.
When CJ covets the ear phone-music of two teens who board the bus, Nana points out that CJ has the “real live thing sitting across” the aisle from him, a guitar-playing passenger. [p. 15]
As he strums, all those on the bus are momentarily transported by the guitar music into a world of their own dreams. CJ is “lifted out of the bus, out of the busy city.” [p. 18] He becomes more aware of all that is beautiful around him.
The music gives him the feeling of magic. The song ends and all of the bus erupts in applause.
Finally, the bus makes its last stop on Market Street. CJ and Nana step off the bus in a poverty-stricken part of town. Boarded windows, graffiti-tagged buildings. CJ asks “How come it’s always so dirty over here?”
Nana explains that sometimes when we are surrounded by ugly, we more easily see the beauty in the world. CJ becomes aware of a rainbow arcing over the soup kitchen where he and Nana volunteer.
He looks about him again and finds the beauty his nana sees in places he never thought to look. And just like that, CJ is glad he has come with his nana. And she is glad, too.
I think one of the things I like best about doing “My Little Miracles: Monday Moments of Gratitude” posts with Shaunacey at Simply Shaunacey is finding unexpected goodness or beauty in places I might not ordinarily look. This book seems to be saying it’s all in one’s attitude. Kind of that glass half-full/half-empty business. I want to be more of a half-full kinda gal.
I checked Amazon.com for the reviews for Last Stop on Market Street. The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, School Library Journal and Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books all gave this picture book their equivalent to two enthusiastic thumbs up.
In addition, Amazon offered this extensive list of accolades. Get your copy here.
Praise for LAST STOP ON MARKET STREET:
Winner of the 2016 Newbery Medal
A 2016 Caldecott Honor Book
A 2016 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Book
A New York Times Bestseller
A New York Times Book Review Notable Children’s Book of 2015
An NPR Best Book of 2015
A Kirkus Reviews Best Book of 2015
A Wall Street Journal Best Book of 2015
A 2015 Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year
A Horn Book Best Book of 2015
BookPage’s “2015’s First Must-Read Picture Book”
The Huffington Post Best Overall Picture Book of 2015
A Boston Globe Best Book of 2015
A Chicago Public Library Best Book of 2015
Chosen for the New York Public Library’s 100 Books for Reading & Sharing List
A Miami Herald Best Children’s Book of 2015
A Raleigh News & Observer Best Children’s Book of 2015
An Atlanta Parent Best Book of 2015
A San Francisco Chronicle Holiday Gift Guide Pick
A Center for the Study of Multicultural Children’s Literature “Best Multicultural Books of 2015” Pick
A Scholastic Instructor 50 Best Summer Book
Chosen for the ALSC 2015 Summer Reading List
A Horn Book Summer 2015 Reading List Pick
Chosen for School Library Journal’s 2015 Top 10 Latin Books List
A Kansas City Star Thanksgiving 2015 Roundup Pick
A Winter 2014-2015 Kids’ Indie Next Pick
2015 E.B. White Read Aloud Award Finalist
Nominated for the 2016 Washington Children’s Choice Picture Book Award
Nominated for the 2016 Kentucky Bluegrass Award
So, sweet friends, I invite you, encourage you to join me in becoming glass half-full kinda folks, if you aren’t already. Spend sometime this weekend looking for all that is lovely in little ways in the world around you. Then come back here to share with me!! Or post to Instagram and tag me @onceuponatimehappilyeverafter, #onceuponatimehappilyeverafter.
Off to beddy bye. I have been sleeping so well after these days of work at Jefferson. Amazing what good comes from a little elbow grease. Happy Friday, friends.
Hugs and kisses,