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In Review

By Elizabeth Wroten

Kidlit Review: Lowriders in Space by Cathy Camper

On 05, Nov 2014 | In Review | By Elizabeth Wroten

LowridersLowriders in Space written by Cathy Camper, illustrated by Raul Gonzalez

From GoodReads: Lupe Impala, El Chavo Flapjack, and Elirio Malaria love working with cars. You name it, they can fix it. But the team’s favorite cars of all are lowriders—cars that hip and hop, dip and drop, go low and slow, bajito y suavecito. The stars align when a contest for the best car around offers a prize of a trunkful of cash—just what the team needs to open their own shop! ¡Ay chihuahua! What will it take to transform a junker into the best car in the universe? Striking, unparalleled art from debut illustrator Raul the Third recalls ballpoint-pen-and-Sharpie desk-drawn doodles, while the story is sketched with Spanish, inked with science facts, and colored with true friendship.

This was such a fun book! The story was clever, the characters are charming and funny. There was even a fart joke. This is the book for kids who loved cars when they were little and haven’t quite lost that interest. It is so the marriage of what would traditionally be a hobby for older teens and adults to the creativity and fantasy of elementary school kids. In terms of reading level and overall length I would say this is best of upper elementary, but definitely has appeal into middle school.

When Lupe, Elirio and Chavo blast off into space on accident after souping up their old jalopy, they finish the job of detailing the car. They collect stars and rings from Saturn. They use moon rocks to enhance the hydraulics. It’s all just really clever. They make it back from space just in time to enter the car in a galactic car contest where they can win enough money to open their own garage.

The art is also amazing. It’s done with Bic pens and Sharpies and looks like the doodles you would see in notebooks and binders of kids. How Raul Gonzalez managed to do this without smudging the heck out of it all I don’t know, but it’s very impressive. I also like that this feels like art a kid could do. Obviously they won’t have the skill of a professional, but I could see some sixth grader looking at this book and looking at their notebooks and thinking, I could do that!

I read the ARC so I wasn’t able to see it in it’s full glory (the pictures were in black and white) and there were a couple quirky things that I’m hoping they’ll fix between now and the actual publication. Well worth the read, though.

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