"There aren’t many books for Latino graphic novel readers. Camper and Raul the Third have created a story that will appeal to car lovers as well as comic book fans. A crazy trio of friends wants to win a carload of money in a lowrider contest. They’re creative and when their car which has been customized with parts from a closed airplane factory shoots into space, they’re in for a whole new dimension for customizing a car. The quirkly characters and the goofy story line will attract young readers." Nelda Brangwin said.
"Look in the children’s section for graphic novels from the Latino perspective and you’ll find precious few choices. Look there for books about lowriders and your choices will be still slimmer. Here is Lowriders in Space, ready to fill both spots with a joyous, celebratory tale. You don’t need deep knowledge of the lowrider culture to appreciate this middle-grade graphic novel, brought to you by the author-illustrator team of Cathy Camper and Raúl the Third.
In the opening pages, we meet three animal characters with Spanish names, all of whom work for a car-repair shop. The shop is called Cartinflas, and this is just one of many playful allusions and verbal jokes in this book. (Cartinflas plays on the name of the famous Mexican comic actor, Cantinflas.) Lupe Impala, (a wolf) busts gender stereotypes as a female lead who knows her way around car engines. Her sidekicks, the octopus El Chavo Flapjack and the mosquito Elirio Malaria, each specialize in key aspects of automobile revamping in the lowrider style. Elirio’s fine-tip proboscis doubles as a paintbrush that turns out the sweetest racing stripes and airbrushed scenes you could imagine. El Chavo’s eight tentacles go to work washing, polishing and buffing cars to a high sheen.
The trio dream of going into business for themselves, but where will they find start-up money? A car competition with a hefty cash prize gives them hope, but there are tough challenges to meet. First, they must find a car to work their magic on. They settle for a rusty heap sitting on cinder blocks. Now for car parts. At an abandoned airplane factory, they pick up mini air compressors and a box of rocket equipment. After attaching the parts, they’re in for a surprise when Lupe cranks the engine and it launches the car into the stratosphere. High above the earth, the car gears down into bajito-y-suavecito mode, low and slow: this is the cruising speed that lets low riders see and be seen. While the transformed auto travels outer space, it takes on loads of flash and bling borrowed from stars, asteroids and others elements of the galactic realm.
There’s much to love in this kid-friendly graphic novel. The story arc follows a familiar trajectory: the protagonists meet every challenge successfully and win the sought-after prize. Kid readers will be cheering. But my hat’s off to Cathy Camper for elevating the storyline above the predictable. She does this through original settings and characters, including the lowrider car itself, and with the inventive twists of space travel and comical astronomy. Her text engages the ear with musical language that includes alliteration, onomatopoeia, and bursts of G-rated street slang in English, Spanish, and Spanglish.
Kids will eat up the comics-style art. Every page offers levels of visual puns and charming details that invite readers to study panels closely. The color scheme and the drawings give off a retro historieta vibe, fitting for a story about lowrider culture, which was born in the 1950s and is rooted in the Mexican American community. I’m not familiar with the ballpoint-pen doodle style that Raúl the Third credits as his inspiration, but I dig it!" Latinxs in Kid Lit said.
"I purchased this book for the kids next door, ages 9 and 11, boy and girl, and they both loved it!" Susan T. said.
"I thought this was a delightful book, and we decided to get a couple of copies for our school library.
It is accessible to pre-teens and teens alike, and has a clever story line about the building of a hot rod
by a small group of friends who live in a Mexican barrio.
Written in English, the book also incorporates some Mexican slang, a bit of basic Spanish vocabulary,
and some Chicano history.But what I absolutely loved about the book were the free-style drawings
which were all done in ballpoint pen: black, red and blue. The encouraging advice from the illustrator
that the young reader could do something like this, and the great glossary at the end, make this a perfect gift.
Bien hecho. Well done!" Dr. Michael Hogan said.
"I did my best with the Spanish, but high school's not enough for me apparently. Hee hee. Ah well it was a good story. Very cute drawings and I wonder what's gonna happen next! Until then,
HASTA LUEGO MI AMIGOS!
TE AMO!" Kelcie Ford said.
"I can't figure out where the good reviews are coming from. The story was just dumb. Three friends need to fix up a car to win a competition so they fly it through outer space??? I think it was trying to make kids read it by being published as a graphic novel and it has received some attention because so few books are written for the Hispanic audience, but skip this one - not worth the time." Jaimea Vanderpoel said.
"Such a fun story and beautifully illustrated! I especially love that the hero mechanic is a Latina woman. Very cool for Latina girls to see themselves represented in stories like these." Jennifer Erin Hughes said.