September 6, 2016
Lowriders to the Center of the Earth by Cathy Camper, illustrated by Raul the Third
Lupe Impala, El Chavo Flapjack and Elirio Malaria are back with their low-riding, star charged car. This time they drive down to the center of the Earth when their gato, Genie, disappears. They think the friendly feline ran away because he was frightened when an earthquake shook their garage.
As they follow his trail, they meet up with a tricky Coyote. They discover that Genie was snatched by Miclantecuhtli, the Aztec god of the Underworld. To save Genie they have to follow the bats to Miclantecuhtli’s realm. It will take the efforts of all three to win their friend back from this conniving Aztec deity.
The Lowrider books are never easy to categorize once you go beyond “graphic novel.” They combine humor with science (types of rocks and layers of the Earth) and more than a bit of Mexican-American culture (from lowriders to wrestling).
My favorite part? The skeletons rocking out ala Day of the Dead. Or maybe it was the fact that the trio cools their car with a swamp cooler. My grandparents in West Texas used a swamp cooler and no one but no one in this part of the country (I’m in Missouri) has a clue what a swamp cooler is.
My least favorite part? El Chavo making fun of Miclantecuhtli’s name, although, admittedly, Aztec names are more than a mouthful. I simply refuse to admit how many tries it takes me to sound out an Aztec name.
I wouldn’t call these books educational in the instructional sense. They do have science and culture but mostly they have story. They are simply a bit of light-hearted fun with more than a little spice.