“Last Stop on Market Street,” a picture book, was the surprise winner of the 2016 Newbery Medal, the top U.S. prize in children’s literature. The award, announced Monday by the American Library Association, focuses on a book’s story, not its pictures. Most winners since the award began in 1922 have been novels.
“Last Stop,” which was written by Matt de la Peña, also won a Caldecott Honor for its illustrations by Christian Robinson.
“I’m still not sure I really believe it,” de la Peña said Monday afternoon of the news. De la Peña said he was especially proud to be the first Latino author to win the award. “This fills me with joy,” he told KidsPost.
The story is about a boy and his nana’s bus trips across a city every Sunday. The boy questions why they’re going to a run-down part of town.
“Sometimes when you’re surrounded by dirt, CJ, you’re a better witness for what’s beautiful,” his nana replies.
Kathie Meizner, reviewer for The Washington Post’s Book World section, said the book offers “a sweet summary of this celebration of the joys of service, the gifts of grandmothers and the tenderness that the city can contain.”
Three books were chosen as Newbery Honors, or runners-up. They were “The War That Saved My Life,” by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, “Roller Girl” by Victoria Jamieson and “Echo” by Pam Muñoz Ryan. All three were books written for middle-grade readers, generally in grades four through seven.
The Caldecott Medal, which honors the best picture book of the year, went to “Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear.” The book is illustrated by Sophie Blackall and written by Lindsay Mattick. Honor Books, in addition to “Last Stop,” were “Trombone Shorty,” illustrated by Bryan Collier and written by Troy Andrews; “Waiting,” illustrated and written by Kevin Henkes; and “Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer, Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement,” illustrated by Ekua Holmes and written by Carole Boston Weatherford.
Other children’s book awards handed out Monday included:
- The best nonfiction book of the year was “Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War” by Steve Sheinkin.
- The Coretta Scott King Book Award, for the best book by an African-American author, went to Rita Williams-Garcia’s “Crazy in Alabama,” the last in her series about three sisters growing up in the 1960s and ‘70s.
- The Belpre Award for the best book by a Latino or Latina author was awarded to “Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings: A Memoir” by Margarita Engle. Engle’s book is about growing up in the United States and Cuba.
- The Theodor Seuss Geisel Award for beginning readers went to “Don’t Throw It to Mo” written by David A. Adler and illustrated by Sam Ricks.