Thursday, March 17, 2016

Lowriders in Space by Cathy Camper, illustrated by Raul the Third

Mechanic Lupe Impala and her friends El Chavo Flapjack and Elirio Malaria love cars. They are eager to get set up in their own garage where Lupe will fix the cars, Flapjack will clean them, and Elirio will paint his fantastic designs on them. There's just one problem - no money! When they see a car contest they decide to fix up an old junker to be the best lowrider ever and with determination, grit, and skill they do just that. Their lowrider takes them to the stars and back to earth to win the contest!

The text sings with delightful words in both Spanish and English and their trip through space is a poetic dance. The art is unique with a southwest, homemade flair. Raul drew it in colored ballpoint pens to mimic the drawings of his youth.

Back matter includes an author's note about lowriders and an illustrator's note about the art. There's also a glossary of Spanish words and a short teaser comic for the next volume.

The whole story is one celebration of love for nostalgia and culture - and that's where I'm not sure it's going to find an audience in my library. I have a fairly large Hispanic population, but we're in Wisconsin. I'm not sure the kids have ever heard of lowriders, much less would be interested in them. A graphic novel with Hispanic characters playing in the snow or going to cheer on their favorite football team is more likely to find an audience here.

Still, this is such a lovely book that it's hard to put it aside. I think it would be fun to introduce kids to a different culture and time period and this book is really original and delightful.

Verdict: I don't think this is going to find the universal audience that some of the reviews posit, but it's definitely a worthwhile purchase and a fun, unique title to introduce kids to.

ISBN: 9781452128696; Published 2014 by Chronicle; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

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