As I said in the last blog post, multiple themes can help foster discussion of Matt De La Peña’s Last Stop on Market Street, no matter what age range you decide to use the book for. Some of the themes in the book are happiness or goodness, inequity, beauty, and community.
Happiness and goodness can be seen clearly in CJ’s grandmother Nana. Nana seems optimistic about everything and tries to get CJ to see the bright side. When CJ and Nana go to the soup kitchen, happiness can also be seen. They are doing something good, but it also makes CJ and Nana happy to help others.
Inequity is another theme found in Last Stop on Market Street. The story has the overarching theme of inequity regarding food insecurity and the need to use a soup kitchen, though. However, are also more underlying inequities that can be found in the story. For example, CJ and his Nana take the bus as their primary form of transportation because they do not have a car. Though it is important to note that when the story discusses these types of inequities, it does not seem to do it in a way where having less is seen as a bad thing, it is ultimately seen as a different way of living.
The third theme, beauty, can also be tied to the theme of inequity, explicitly looking at having less as just a different way of living. Throughout the book, Nana tries to show CJ how beautiful every part of their city is through her smile and being unfazed when the bus enters the side of the city where inequality is present.
The last theme is community. The theme of community can be seen throughout Last Stop on Market Street. There is a community of volunteers at the soup kitchen and people who ride the bus. Still, there is also a larger community in the neighborhood and the community that CJ and Nana are trying to help.
Finally, as with every Big Read, Middle Read, and Little Read book, readers can discuss many themes, but these are great jumping-off points. We hope you use these themes to start great conversations and can not wait to see what comes to your mind when you think about themes in Last Stop on Market Street by Matt De La Peña.
Written by Nancy Gately