Visiting Author Matt de la Peña Talks About Writing and Creativity

Friday was a busy day for New York-based author Matt de la Peña. Last year, Matt was awarded a Newbery Medal for his recent book, Last Stop on Market Street, and he spent the morning talking to Lower Schoolers and TTC apprentices about his work. The Beginner-Grade IV students he met with knew the book well—librarians had read it out loud to their classes and many gradeheads had read it in class.
What students soon realized is that nearly everything in the book had a story behind it. “You see this illustration with the hawks circling,” Matt asked. “My father loved watching hawks play in the air currents. We used to take a break from what we were doing just to watch.” When the two main characters in Last Stop on Market Street climb into a city bus, they sit right up front. “Why do you think I mentioned where they sat?” Many third graders raised their hands, and one said, “Because black people weren’t always allowed to sit up front.” “Right!” Matt responded. “It’s part of the grandmother’s character. She knew a time when she couldn’t do that. In a picture book, you don’t get to use many words, so every detail counts.”
He asked, “Who likes creating, whether it’s art, music, writing, or performing?” Hands flew up. “Share your art,” he counseled. “It’s important that people know how you see the world.” While Matt’s writing is infused with his experiences, his books focus on broader themes—hope, music, love.
On his way back to the classroom, a third grader said, “I'm going to be a writer!”
617.520.5260        178 Coolidge Hill    Cambridge MA 02138