Every Sunday after church, CJ and his grandma ride the bus across town. But today, CJ wonders why they don't own a car like his friend Colby. Why doesn’t he have an iPod like the boys on the bus? How come they always have to get off in the dirty part of town? Each question is met with an encouraging answer from grandma, who helps him see the beauty—and fun—in their routine and the world around them.
This energetic ride through a bustling city highlights the wonderful perspective only grandparent and grandchild can share, and comes to life through Matt de la Pena’s vibrant text and Christian Robinson’s radiant illustrations.--from the publisher
32 pages 978-0399257742 Ages 4-7
Matt de la Pena gave the Newbery Medal Award speech last Sunday night at the American Library Association Annual Convention in Orlando.
When they handed him the medal, he stepped down from the dais and reached to give the medal in its lovely case to a woman seated at the front table. She was his mother.
Matt has already given us some tremendous YA novels, a pair of adventure stories and a Newbery award-winning picture book, LAST STOP ON MARKET STREET.
I've had the good fortune to have small windows of time with Matt, once at a luncheon at Shenandoah University's Children's Literature Festival and once when I taped a segment with him for my cable tv show, Books Alive.
When you spend time with him, you get to hear his heart. You get that insight into the empathy he carries for so many and the intensity that hides itself beneath that very gentle exterior.
For everyone in the room at the Banquet last Sunday night, Matt showed up with a good amount of his deeper self in action.
One story he told was about going to do a school visit, reading Last Stop on Market Street to the students, and then revealing to them that he always gives his copy of the book to someone in the crowd.
Oh, the excitement that ran through that gaggle. Who would get the book? Matt walked up into the crowd and handed to a very surprised little guy.
Later in the day at that school Matt was surrounded by "short" question askers. As he fielded questions, the young fellow who had been the lucky recipient of the Matt's book, appeared, approached and asked, "Why did you give me that book?"
Turns out Matt could sense that this boy was special...there was just something special about him.
Small tears flowed.
The other children in the group told Matt this boy was "new." He was the new kid.
Can you imagine what it must have been like for these children to see this grown man, an AUTHOR, standing there being so caring and so empathetic? Can you imagine what kind of role model had just appeared in their lives?
As the boy's tears flowed, the other children patted him and encouraged him and told him it would be okay. They gave him amazing emotional support. Made him feel he was one of them.
Turns out we all need that support. We all need to know we are one of them. Matt de la Pena described needing exactly that support from our community of librarians and educators when he WON the Newbery. He needed us to tell him it was great and that he was that SPECIAL.
So, deep gratitude to Matt's mother. I hope they take time over and over again to celebrate what all their choices and values led them to. I hope Matt gives us story after story so many, many other children discover they can make the same hard choices and discover the miracle that they are special, they do belong, and yes, Matt, they most definitely have a place at the table.
Barb Langridge, abookandahug.com Facebook post
Winner of the 2016 Newbery Medal A 2016 Caldecott Honor Book A 2016 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Book A New York Times Book Review Notable Children's Book of 2015 A Wall Street Journal Best Children's Book of 2015