February 21 – It’s Love the Bus Month

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About the Holiday

Love the Bus Month, sponsored  by the American School Bus Council, promotes awareness of and offers appreciation to the thousands of school bus drivers across the country who safely transport students every day to and from school, to field trips and to sporting events. To join the celebration, write a note to your bus driver and thank them for all they do for you!

Last Stop on Market Street

Written by Matt de la Peña | Illustrated by Christian Robinson

 

CJ, fresh from church, skips out into the sprinkling rain. He and his nana wait for the bus under her umbrella. From the bus stop CJ watches as his friend climbs into a warm, dry car and asks, “‘Nana, how come we don’t got a car?’” Nana was just telling CJ that they didn’t need a car when “the bus creaked to a stop in front of them. It sighed and sagged and the doors swung open.’”  As they stepped aboard, Mr. Dennis, the bus driver, pulled a quarter from behind CJ’s ear, making him giggle.

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Image copyright Christian Robinson, text copyright Matt de da Peña, 2015. Courtesy of G. P. Putnam and Sons Books for Young Readers.

CJ and Nana found seats up front across from a man with a guitar and an old woman with a jar of butterflies on her lap. Nana said hello to everyone and “made sure CJ did the same.” As the bus pulled away from the curb, Nana began to knit and CJ looked out the window feeling sorry that he couldn’t just go home after church like his friends. Nana said she felt “‘sorry for those boys….They’ll never get a chance to meet Bobo or the Sunglass Man.’”

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Image copyright Christian Robinson, text copyright Matt de da Peña, 2015. Courtesy of G. P. Putnam and Sons Books for Young Readers.

At the next stop a blind man and his dog got on. CJ gave him his seat, but asked Nana why he couldn’t see. “‘Some people watch the world with their ears.’” Nana told him. When the bus stopped again, two older boys stepped on. CJ wished he could listen to music on a phone like they were, but Nana pointed to the man with the guitar, who began to pluck the strings and sing. CJ closed his eyes and let the music transport him out of the city. In his mind he saw waves and colors, hawks and butterflies. “CJ’s chest grew full and he was lost in the sound and the sound gave him the feeling of magic.”

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Image copyright Christian Robinson, text copyright Matt de da Peña, 2015. Courtesy of G. P. Putnam and Sons Books for Young Readers.

When the man finished his song everyone clapped, and CJ dropped his quarter into the man’s hat. Finally, the bus came to the last stop on Market Street. CJ and his nana stepped off into a neighborhood of “crumbling sidewalks and broken-down doors, graffiti-tagged windows and boarded-up stores.” CJ wondered why it was always so dirty there, but Nana pointed to the beauty of the sky above them. CJ looked up and saw a rainbow arching over the soup kitchen. Then CJ saw familiar faces at the window and felt glad they had come. “‘Me too,’” Nana agreed as she and CJ took up their posts and began ladling soup into bowls.

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Image copyright Christian Robinson, text copyright Matt de da Peña, 2015. Courtesy of G. P. Putnam and Sons Books for Young Readers.

Matt de da Peña’s gentle nudging to look on the bright side and appreciate the beauty and wonder around you is made all the more poignant for readers by the story’s young protagonist. Through realistic dialogue and honestly expressed feelings, CJ and Nana engage in one of life’s most important lessons—connecting empathetically with others. CJ’s rich experiences on the bus and at the soup kitchen—microcosms of our larger world—broadens his view and enlivens his imagination. Last Stop on Market Street reminds readers that to truly enjoy a meaningful life they must be aware of and appreciate the diversity of people and events around them.

Christian Robinson’s acrylic and collage illustrations are smart, captivating snapshots of CJ’s day as he watches and interacts with a variety of people on the bus and at the soup kitchen. The visual camaraderie of the passengers—old and young, tattooed, talented, and disabled—as they talk together and smile at one another will cheer readers. The color scheme of bright and pastel colors shared from page to page enhances the book’s themes of interconnectedness and cohesion, and the clean, unadorned images reflect the idea that often the simple things in life really are the best.

Last Stop of Market Street, winner of the 2016 Newberry award and a Caldecott Honor book as well as the winner of many other awards, is a superb book to add to any child’s home library.

Ages 3 – 6

G. P. Putnam Suns Books for Young Readers, 2015 | ISBN 978-0399257742

Learn more about Matt De La Peña, his books, and more on his website!

Discover more about Christian Robinson and view a gallery of his work on his website!

Get on board this Last Stop on Market Street book trailer!

Love the Bus Month Activity

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Where Are You Going? Coloring Page

 

Do you love riding the bus? It’s a great way to sightsee while getting where you want to go. Grab your colored pencils, markers, or crayons and enjoy this Where Are You Going? Coloring Page!

Picture Book Review

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