Lowriders in Space

illus. by Raúl the Third. 112p. glossary. Chronicle. Nov. 2014. Tr $22.99. ISBN 9781452121550; pap. $9.99. ISBN 9781452128696.
Gr 4–8—Camper introduces readers to Lupe Impala, Flapjack Octopus, and Elirio Malaria, three friends who love working with cars and dream of having their own garage shop. One day they see an opportunity to achieve their goal—a car competition where the prize is a "carload of cash and a solid gold steering wheel." When they start working on a lowrider to prepare it for the competition, an out-of-this world journey begins. Through anthropomorphic characters, the author narrates a tale of friendship, teamwork, and the passion for lowriding. She incorporates astronomy to this adventure, providing readers the opportunity to familiarize with terms from both worlds. Raúl the Third's colored pencil-and-marker illustrations effectively depict images from the lowriding subculture, while including references from Mexican pop culture, such as the iconic comedian Cantiflas and Chespirito's El Chavo del Ocho. The way he alternates among full-page artwork, spreads, and non-rectangular panels works well with the story and strongly supports its visual understanding. However, although it is true that some Latinos code-switch in their conversation, the use of Spanish words didn't feel organic to the story. There is also inconsistency in the use of accents, and footnotes that point readers to phrases and word meanings are explained as "nonsense words in Spanish," when that's not necessarily the case. Lowriders in Space fills a gap of Latino graphic novels for kids, and its quirky characters and illustrations have the potential to engage children. Let's hope that future installments will have a more accurate and natural use of Spanish. A helpful glossary of astronomy and lowriding terms is appended.—Sujei Lugo, Somerville Public Library, MA
To win a competition, animal friends Lupe Impala, Elirio Malaria, and Flapjack Octopus build a rocket-powered lowrider out of space materials collected as they drive through the galaxy. The unique ballpoint-pen illustrations explode with energy as the hip, witty text drops occasional Spanish slang. An afterword explaining the history of lowrider cars puts the graphic novel into cultural context. Glos.
Utterly unique and full of energy, this graphic novel incorporates Spanish phrases, memorable characters, and outer space into a fast-paced tale-"y hay un monton de carros!"(And there's a ton of cars!) Readers will enjoy the way Lupe Impala, Flapjack Octopus, and Elirio Malaria support one another in their attempts to earn money with which to open their own garage. Raul the Third's dynamic illustrations convey a sense of motion and speed. Inspired in part by ballpoint pen-detailed fan art found in issues of Lowrider magazine, they are likely to inspire students to create their own drawings. Spanish expressions are helpfully translated at the bottom of the page on which they are used and also included in a glossary alongside astronomy terms and car vocabulary.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing