Lowriders in Space
Cathy Camper (writer) and Raúl the Third (artist)
Genres: Science Fiction, High Fantasy, Graphic Novel
Lupe Impala is a whiz at fixing cars. El Chavo Flapjack can buff and polish all day long. Elirio Malaria has a beak for detail and everybody knows it. The three of them work hard six days a week fixing and detailing cars for somebody else’s garage. But they have dreams bigger than their small desert town. Not only do they want their own garage, but they want to lowrider car of their very own. Without funds, though, it seems unlikely that they’ll ever see their dreams come to fruition.
At least, that’s what they think until the day they see a poster for a contest. The best refurbished lowrider car will not only win a solid gold steering wheel, but a bucket load of cash. Lupe, El Chavo, and Elirio know that if they can just get the parts, they’ll have the win in the bag. But with barely any money, how will they manage?
Honestly? It was better than I expected. The art was pretty cool—apparently Raúl drew it exclusively in ballpoint pens he found lying around. It gives it a specific kind of aesthetic that you can’t really find anywhere else. Just from a technical standpoint it’s really impressive, since it’s easy to make mistakes when you’re only using pen. I also like the way they made the characters, especially Lupe. She has this really cool Wonder Woman circa 1970 vibe, except she’s wearing denim capris and the gold eagle on her top looks like an Aztec eagle. I’m not entirely sure why they chose an octopus for one of the creatures, though.
The story itself is kind of cute. It’s a fairly standard fairy tale, with a couple of animal characters that want to win a contest which will let them have enough money to make your dreams come true. They end up traveling through the solar system and each time they see one of the planets or a moon or anything like that they use a little bit to make their car even cooler for the contest. It’s very fantasy meets science fiction meets old-school fairy tale, and again it’s kind of cute. The rhythm that the author gets going for the writing ends of having a poetic feel, like you could almost write a melody for it and sing it as a song. That aspect is probably my favorites in terms of the actual story.
The characters themselves weren’t actually very well-developed at all, which, in fairness is what you would expect from a fairy tale. They’re all flat and don’t change. To be honest, there actually isn’t even much of a conflict except how are they going to get the parts to fix up this old clunker of a car to win the contest. That problem was solved in about two pages, which was slightly disappointing. The rest of the book was them pretty much just flying through space and gathering up bits of stars and stuff. I mean, you know from the beginning they’re going to win the contest because Reasons, but there wasn’t any tension. Actually, that was my biggest problem: at no time was I worried that something bad might happen.
I guess there was one moment that was cleverly done. They were flying and got too close to a black hole and the way that they solved it involved White Out. I thought that was kind of funny. But even then, the fact that you knew from the start that they were going to win just killed all worry for me.
On the other hand, I guess I could be a draw for a lot of kids, particularly struggling readers. The language in the book really isn’t all that difficult, and they added Spanish phrases with translation, which actually made it really interesting to read. I know just enough Spanish to know that the translations are correct, but this could actually leave to some discussions in class if you were to use this book with the whole group. Would actually be fairly good to use with English language learners, particularly if you have some Spanish speakers. They could help discuss some of the phrases, and then the other kids in the class could discuss whether or not they had similar phrases in their own native languages. This is especially true of idiomatic phrases, like ¡Ay chihuahua!, which was used once or twice.
A cute modern-day fairy tale that’d be appreciated by struggling readers and non-native speakers alike.
- Students who like cars
- Students who like Spanish
- Students who like graphic novels
- Theft: characters steal some supplies for their car
- Overcoming Adversity
|Exploration of Conflict||1|
|Consideration of Themes||2|
|Suspension of Disbelief||2|
|Imagery and Description||2|
|Rhythm and Pace of Book||2|
|Mechanics (spelling, grammar, punctuation)||2|