KCKPL’s Stories on the Bus: Matt de la Peña reads Last Stop on Market Street

KCKPL’s Stories on the Bus: Matt de la Peña reads Last Stop on Market Street


[Music Playing] The title of the book is Last Stop on Market Street. [Music Playing] CJ pushed through the church doors, skipped down the steps. The outside air smelled like freedom, but
it also smelled like rain, which freckled CJ’s shirt and dripped down his nose. He ducked under his nana’s umbrella, saying, “How come we gotta wait for the bus in all this wet?” “Trees get thirsty, too,” his nana told
him. “Don’t you see that big one drinking through a straw?” CJ looked for a long time but never saw a straw. Can I show you guys this illustration? Do you see the straw that the tree is drinking from? [kids answer “yes”]
We don’t have to even say where it is or what it is, but if you see the straw, you
understand the entire book. ok? From the bus stop, he watched water pool on flower petals. Watched rain patter against the windshield of a nearby car. His friend Colby climbed in, gave CJ a wave, and drove off with his dad. “Nana, how come we don’t got a car?” “Boy, what do we need a car for? We got a bus that breathes fired, and old
Mr. Dennis, who always has a trick for you.” The bus creaked to a stop in front of them. It sighed and sagged and the doors swung open. [bus door noise] “What’s that I see?” Mr. Dennis asked. He pulled a coin from behind CJ’s ear, placed it in his palm. Nana laughed her deep laugh and pushed CJ along. They sat right up front. By the way, real quick, I want to ask you guys a question. This first line right here is very important to me, that they sat right up front. Does anybody know why that’s an important line? There was a time where certain people could only sit in certain seats and I think Nana wants to take advantage of the fact she can now sit anywhere. So they sat right up front. The man across the way was tuning a guitar. An old woman with curlers had butterflies
in a jar. Nana gave everyone a great big smile and a “good afternoon.” She made sure CJ did the same. The bus lurched forward and stopped, lurched forward and stopped. Nana hummed as she knit. “How come we always gotta go here after church?” CJ said. “Miguel and Colby never have to go nowhere.” “I feel sorry for those boys,” she told him. “They’ll never get a chance to meet Bobo or the Sunglass Man. And I hear Trixie got herself a brand-new
hat.” CJ stared out the window feeling sorry for himself. He watched as cars zipped by on either side,
watched a group of boys hop curbs on bikes. A man climbed aboard with a spotted dog. CJ gave up his seat. “How come that man can’t see?” “Boy, what do you know about seeing?” Nana told him. “Some people watch the world with their
ears.” “That’s a fact. Their noses, too,” the man said, sniffing at the air. “That’s a mighty fine perfume you’re
wearing today, ma’am.” Nana squeezed the man’s hand and laughed her deep laugh. Two older boys got on next. CJ watched as they moved on by and stood in back. “Sure wish I had one of those,” he said. Nana sat down her knitting. “What for? You got the real live this sitting across from you. Why don’t you ask the man if he’ll play us a song?” CJ didn’t have to. The guitar player was already plucking strings and beginning to sing. “To feel the magic of music,” the blind man whispered, “I like to close my eyes.” Nana closed hers, too. So did CJ and the spotted dog. And in the darkness, the rhythm lifted CJ
out of the bus, out of the busy city. He saw sunset colors swirling over crashing
waves. Saw a family of hawks slicing through the
sky. Saw the old woman’s butterflies dancing
free in the light of the moon. CJ’s chest grew full and he was lost in
the sound and the sound gave him the feeling of magic. [Music Playing] The song ended and CJ opened his eyes. Everyone on the bus clapped, even the boys in the back. [Clapping] Nana glanced at the coin in CJ’s palm. CJ dropped it in the man’s hat. “Last stop on Market Street,” Mr. Dennis
called. CJ looked around as he stepped off the bus. Crumbling sidewalks and broken-down doors,
graffiti-tagged windows and boarded-up stores. He reached for Nana’s hand. “How come it’s always so dirty over here?” She smiled and pointed to the sky. “Sometimes when you’re surrounded by dirt, CJ, you’re a better witness for what’s beautiful.” CJ saw the perfect rainbow arching over their soup kitchen. He wondered how his nana always found beautiful where he never even thought to look. He looked all around them again, at the bus
rounding the corner out of sight and the broken streetlamps still lit up bright and the stray-cat
shadows moving across the wall. When he spotted their familiar faces in the
window, he said, “I’m glad we came.” He thought his nana might laugh her deep laugh, but she didn’t. She patted him on the head and told him, “Me too, CJ. Now, come on.” And if you guys see, CJ and his nana are at
the soup kitchen. But are they eating there or are they serving? [Kids answer “serving”]
They’re serving others, right? So even when you don’t have all that much money, you can’t buy a car, you can still help others, right? And the last thing I want to show you guys. Who’s this a picture of? [Kids answer “CJ”]
So it’s CJ and his grandmother, right? He’s reading a book. What color is the book?
[Kids answer “orange”] What color is this book?
[Kids answer “orange”] So don’t you think he’s reading Last Stop on Market Street? [Kids answer “yes”] I do too, but the illustrator told me it’s not true. [laughter]
He said that apparently the cover used to be white. And you know what I told him? I said “I don’t care. I’m telling everybody he’s reading Last
Stop on Market Street.” So thank you guys so much for listening to
me. [clapping]
[music playing] [music playing] MATT DE LA PEÑA: One of the coolest parts about today is that I got to watch, like, the book come to life. And I got to actually just kind of sit there
and sort of let the action kind of happen. I love reading my books to kids because I
feel like it’s one thing to read a book, it’s another thing to get the music of the text. They were sort of starting to understand what was happening. The book was coming alive so they started to anticipate what was going to happen next. That’s kind of the dream of any author. CAROL LEVERS: Last Stop on Market Street. I love the book. I love CJ. You know, he doesn’t understand a lot of
the things, like a lot of our kids don’t. As an adult reader, you read between the lines and you can understand where Matt is coming from. I’m originally from South Africa and I grew up where books were banned, especially books where people of color were protagonists. And that just, that’s the way it was growing
up, so I always decided I don’t care, kids need to read all kinds of books. They need to have variety and when this book
came out, I thought “This is the best book for the kids, especially now.” It worked out fantastically. I enjoyed every minute of it and I could see
the kids enjoying every minute of it. CAMILLE CALDWELL: I thought it was a really cool experience for the kids to keep learning fun. I was trying to look for new ways to keep
them reading, so I thought that was a really cool way to get him interested. LOUISA WHITFIELD-SMITH: As Matt says, he talks about how the central image is the tree drinking through the straw And what it means to our mind and our heart open to perceive the world around us and what it can be, not just as it is, to be a better witness for what’s beautiful. So, today was just a really exciting opportunity to do something with a sense of wonder and fun about things we love, with someone we
love, and some awesome kids in our community. [Music playing]