Camper, Cathy. 2014. Lowriders in Space. New York: Chronicle.
Illustrated by Raul the Third.
(Advance Reader Copy)
Quirky and unique, Lowriders in Space is a graphic, sci-fi novel that extols the virtues of working hard, working together for a common goal, and striving for success despite the odds of achieving it. It's also funny and stylish, and peppered with Mexican-American slang as it shines a rare spotlight on "lowrider" culture.
The cast of characters includes an impala, an octopus, and a mosquito:
- "Lupe Impala was the finest mechanic south of Vacaville. She could rescue a dropped gasket, notch a belt, or electrocharge a sparkplug, swish a swashplate or wrangle a manifold with a twist of her wrench a flick of her wrist."
- El Chavo "Flapjack Octopus wielded the wettest washcloth North of the Salton Sea. When he polished a car, he spun over the paint job like an eight-pointed ninja star flying through the night."
- "Elirio was the best detail artist around. People were a little afraid of Elirio Malaria."
They're best friends. They work together. They can count on each other. But can they build a lowrider to win the Universal Car Competition? They can when they accidentally use rocket parts and get a truly cosmic makeover!
Besides its truly unique and fun characters, I like that Lowriders in Space features adults. The general rule is that books for kids will be about kids. That's fine as a general rule, but a quality children's book about adults is a breath of fresh air. When I was a very young kid, my favorite things to read were Archie and Veronica comic books and Nancy Drew mysteries. They had cars and boyfriends and nary a parent in sight (unless you count Nancy's father, who was more like an early version of an ATM than a parent).
Humor? Lowriders has that, too. My favorite panels?
El Chavo (the octopus) sitting in his new bucket seat (a bucket!). "¡Que suave!"
Elario rescuing the group from a black hole with ... Wite Out!
What else do I like about Lowriders in Space? The subtitle is "Book 1." I sure had fun reviewing this one. I look forward to seeing more of this unconventional trio.
Back matter includes a dictionary of the Mexican-American slang and scientific terms used throughout the book (it is a sci-fi novel, after all).
My advance copy was in black and white, with only a small sampling in color. See full color pages on the book's FB page. [https://www.facebook.com/pages/Low-Riders-in-Space/487615068027769?sk=photos_stream]
Though I'm a Jersey Girl now, I lived for many years in Southern California. If you've never been stopped at a red light next to one of these bouncing babies, you're really missing something! Want to see some lowrider action? Check out this YouTube video, "60 Seconds of Low Riders."