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De la Peña earned his Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from SDSU in 2000. De la Peña earned his Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from SDSU in 2000.
 


Alumnus Wins Top Prize for Children’s Literature

SDSU alumnus Matt de la Peña received one of the most prestigious prizes in American children’s literature for his book “Last Stop on Market Street.”
By SDSU NewsTeam
 

San Diego State University alumnus Matt de la Peña has been named the 2016 recipient of the John Newbery Medal for the most outstanding contribution to children’s literature for his picture book “Last Stop on Market Street.”

Awarded annually by the American Library Association, the Newbery Medal is one of the most prestigious awards in children’s literature. 

“My time in the MFA program at SDSU was vital to my career,” said de la Peña.  “I showed up as a scrubby ex-jock and left as a real writer. I got to study with amazing professors like Hal Jaffe and Lidia Yuknavitch and Alida Allison. Winning the Newbery is an amazing honor, and I'm proud to say I learned my craft at SDSU.”

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De la Peña’s book received the John Newbery Medal for children’s literature.

De la Peña, who earned his Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from SDSU in 2000, is not the first Aztec to receive the Newbery Medal. Sid Fleishman ('49) was awarded the coveted medal in 1987 for his book, “The Whipping Boy.”

The 2016 honorees were announced Tuesday, and awards will be presented during the annual American Library Association Conference in June. De la Peña is the first Latino to receive this honor.

A boy on a bus

“Last Stop on Market Street," illustrated by Christian Robinson, was written for children ages 3 to 5. It tells the story of CJ, who is riding the bus with his grandma and 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.

The 10th novel published by de la Peña, "Last Stop on Market Street" has won a number of other awards. It was named 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 and a Wall Street Journal Best Children’s Book of 2015.

More about Peña

In fall 2014, Peña sat down with 360 Magazine for an interview about his time at SDSU and how he got started on this career path.