Tag Archives: colors

Last Stop on Market Street

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I cannot say enough good things about Matt de la Peña and Christian Robinson’s 2015 Last Stop on Market Street. I stumbled upon it quite by accident, tugging on its bright orange spine in the hopes that the book would be less dusty and worn than the others I’d found in the library…and I was not disappointed.

The book itself – the text and the images – are beautifully done. In fact, Last Stop on Market Street won both the Newbery Medal and a Caldecott Honor in 2016. De la Peña’s writing is nuanced: simple and straightforward, easy for a child to understand – but also embedded with imagery and poeticism. The descriptions are as vivid for the scenery as they are for the characters: just as “Nana laughed her deep laugh,” the bus “sighed and sagged.” On the very second page, our young protagonist CJ steps out of church into “outside air [that] smelled like freedom, but […] also like rain”; toward the end, his grandmother tells him that “when you’re surrounded by dirt, […] you’re a better witness for what’s beautiful.”

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“‘Sometimes when you’re surrounded by dirt […] you’re a better witness for what’s beautiful.'”

Nana is referring to the beauty of the sky – but she could easily be talking about Robinson’s pictures. They are colorful and detailed, done in strokes that give the book’s childish narrator a stake in the visual aspect of the story as well as the narration – Robinson colors the world as a child sees it. The images give off a mixed media feel: newspaper on one page, the birds on the page shown above as if they have been cut from paper. And the figures themselves, of course, are vibrant, colorful representations of all of humanity: in wheelchairs, on foot, with headscarves, with no hair at all, tattooed, light-skinned, dark-skinned, elderly, middle-aged, bespectacled.

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The book is not one, however, that is simply beautiful. It is an emissary of so many beautiful messages: on being grateful, being positive, finding beauty everywhere, helping others, and, above all, perspective. Each character is unique; though the narrator and Nana use Standard American English, CJ has a clear dialect (see image below) that is not looked down upon by the narrator or criticized. His skin color, too, is darker than the average children’s book protagonist’s – but the book is about more than diversity.

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Throughout the book, CJ whines about his responsibilities, about not having a car…but at the end, CJ is gently reminded – as is the reader – to shift his perspective and realize that we are all luckier than we think. Last Stop on Market Street is a reminder to be grateful, compassionate, and respectful, and is a touching story that crosses cultures and class without coming off as as preachy or, on the other end, pitying. Instead, it recognizes not the deficits of different groups of people but the strengths; it celebrates humanity and the goodness de la Peña sees in us all.

 

 

-Addison Armstrong

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Trendy Tuesday: “Press Here” by Hervé Tullet

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Coming at you now is a book that’s been trendy for readers ages 2 and up for more than 2 years now, according to the New York Times children’s picture books best sellers listPress Here by Hervé Tullet! It’s received a 4.8/5 star rating from over 500 Amazon reviewers, along with rave reviews from sources such as Publishers Weekly, Booklist, and the School Library Journal. So, what exactly makes it so captivating? 

It’s because you are the driver here. You are the one that causes this book to move, shake, and surprise!

Look at what happens between these two spreads:

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To a child as young as 2, what really happened here? Was it my doing? Wow!
To a group of college students who all got to participate in manipulating one spread, we knew what was happening, but still were totally charmed and brightened by the delightfully simple and colorful concept that this book focuses on.

I think, though, that anyone who’s old enough or is capable of enacting gross motor actions (or watching someone else, perhaps the reader, do it if a handicap is the barrier), will feel a sense of fun from watching the book change with the movements. It’s got universal potential!  

If you’re charmed by the concept of the book, watch its YouTube book trailer – you’ll get a smile out of young kids reading it and watching the magic of their imaginations, as the end of the trailer quotes: “It’s not magic… it’s the power of your imagination!” 

Emmie Arnold