Friday, January 29, 2016

Spotlight Friday - Last Stop on Market Street 1.29.16

Time to get ready for the weekend!
Kick up your feet and find a good place to read.
Sharing #booklove for your classroom or library.
Spotlighting a book or two because these books deserve the spotlight!

Last Stop on Market Street
Last Stop on Market Street
written by Matt de la Pena
illustrated by Christian Robinson
published by Penguin

I've had numerous blogger friends tell me I need to read Matt de la Pena books.  Because they are YA, I haven't rushed to read them.  Since I teach in a K-4 building, I get to YA only every so often.  Then I remember it was November 2014, my first NCTE, and I looked over and found Matt signing copies of his upcoming picture book. I didn't have time to get in his line, but I put it in the back of my mind to get to once it came out.  When it came out, I got it from the library.  I remember thinking the writing really stood out to me.  And then I read it again and I remember thinking how much the illustrations added to the setting and feeling of the book.  Now, almost a year later, and we're talking about the book again.  

As I took the time to read the book again with 4th graders, there were so many things we stopped and commented on.  Read this book again and stop, notice and talk about:

  • Notice the subtle things de la Pena and Robinson did to emphasize the setting - the contrast from the beginning of the book to the end, the urban setting of the bus, the changes in perspective because of the setting. 
  • Use the setting to gather clues about where CJ and Nana are going.
  • Nana talks about having a bus that "breathes fire".  What do you think she meant by that?  Was it the picture on the side of the bus, or the smoke that comes from the exhaust?
  • Look at the language de la Pena uses - "outside air smelled like freedom", "drinking through a straw", "sunset colors swirling over crashing waves".  How does that enhance the story?
  • A good part of the story takes place on the bus.  Look at the cast of characters.  What do they teach CJ?  What is their purpose?
  • We see the bus says "Market" on the top.  Where do students think the bus is going? (it seems obvious to us, but even 4th graders think it means they are going to the grocery store)
  • Matt de la Pena signs the book "look for the beautiful".  Closely read - Nana tells CJ, 'Sometimes, when you're surrounded by dirt, CJ, You're a better witness for what's beautiful.' When Nana says "surrounded by dirt", what did she mean by that?  (again amazing how 4th graders take that so literal)
  • When CJ takes Nana'a advice and looks around, how does his perspective change?
  • Once you get to the end, go back to Nana's comment about seeing the beautiful.  How did CJ do that?  How can you do that?
  • Play "Be the Committee".  Talk about what the possible conversations that occurred around this book at the Newbery, Caldecott and Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award committees.  Read just the words of the book, without looking at the illustrations.  What are some of the lines that stuck out to you?
I love the conversations that happen with students and this book.  I hope you can use some of these points when you read this book with students again!


  1. Sometimes I think you and I are connected! I'm actually going to post about this in the upcoming weeks because I did a lesson with my students. I'll link back to your post :)

  2. Thanks for this. I ldo critical literacy workshop's, based on Lee Heffernan's strategy in getting beyond I like the book. It is strategy using picture books to get kids to examine their thinking, their assumptions, and how they you see the world. I've only worked with grades three and up. I haven't used it with younger students. What has astounded me is the quality of complex questioning and ideas these learners are capable of.