First sentence: CJ pushed through the church doors, skipped down the steps. The outside air smelled like freedom, but it also smelled like rain, which freckled CJ's shirt and dripped down his nose.
Premise: CJ and his Nana enjoy a bus ride after church; readers are led to believe that this is a frequent occurrence for the pair. But what is the last stop on Market Street?! That mystery is not revealed immediately. Readers instead are part of the journey page by page. CJ's conversation with Nana reveals a worldview of sorts that is admirable in every way.
My thoughts: How I wish I'd read this one BEFORE it won the Newbery! It also earned a Caldecott Honor. Both are deserved, in my opinion. But one is more surprising than the other, of course. Not many picture books get the Newbery medal. This isn't the first, and, it probably won't be the last. But still--it's rare.
Why do I wish I'd read it before the big announcement? Well. Once a book wins the Newbery, it seems my expectations go over-the-top. I'm "robbed" of reading the book on its own merits without the burden of comparing and contrasting it with every other Newbery winner I've read. It's not that I intentionally set out to do so. No, it's something I try to refrain from doing when I notice it. But expectations can be sneaky.
So what do I think of this one? Well, at the very, very least I really like it. I can honestly say that I love, love, love the character of Nana! Nana and CJ are a cute pair, and, the dialogue between the two which takes up almost all of the book is well worth reading several times. The first time through you might be caught up in plot to notice the little things, the tiny things, the small elements that when seen as a whole are lovely and delightful. Such as the opening description.
Text: 4 out of 5
Illustrations: 4 out of 5
Total: 8 out of 10
© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews