The Last Stop On Market Street is a celebration of the special relationship between nana and grandson. It is a rich story about a young boy’s bus journey from the church to the soup kitchen on Market Street.
CJ longs for a world that is out of reach. A world lived in by those around him. He is jealous of those who get into cars and don’t have to stand out in the rain and wait for the bus. He wishes for the latest gadgets and to able to listen to music on an iPod like the older boys on the bus. Oh, to own a bike and be able to bunny-hop across the kerbs. He doesn’t want to have to go the soup kitchen in the dirty part of town. But CJ’s nana is determined to open CJ’s eyes and ears to the world around him and helps him to see the beauty that is surrounding him…
CJ’s nana is a delight. She is a picture of positivity and celebrates what is around her. When it rains she reminds CJ that the plants need to drink. On the bus she shows CJ the pleasure of conversing with other passengers; the blind man who sees with his ears and nose, the musician who sings a song, the lady with the jar of butterflies - these are experiences that travelling in a car does not offer. And when they arrive at the soup kitchen, it is not to eat but to volunteer and serve the food to others. Ultimately nana shows the importance of belonging to a community and that feeling a part of something is much more important than wealth and can’t be bought with money. CJ is full of relevant questions about the world that he finds himself in. Why does he have to do this and why can’t he have that? He is frustrated with the situation he finds himself in but nana helps him to see things differently.
Messages on kindness and being appreciative of what is around you are central themes to the story. It is always worth taking the time to observe your surroundings and notice the community that you are part of - something that is often increasingly difficult to do when we are glued to our screens. There are characters from all backgrounds in the book and the book has a real feeling of inclusivity; CJ and his nana are BAME characters, disabled characters feature as do other recognisable people that are often stereotype-cast. The illustrations that accompany the text are bright, bold and vibrant and bring the bus journey through the city to life.
A read that helps children appreciate the smaller things in life. Celebrate what you have and don’t worry about what you don’t have. Beauty can be found everywhere if you open up your eyes.
Recommended for 5+.