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!”