Synopsis: Time to start posting reviews of the Cybils graphic novel finalists, now that my Round 2 silence is broken–and why not start with the winning title for Elementary/Middle Grade? Lowriders to the Center of the Earth is the second in the Lowriders in Space series, starring the three friends Lupe Impala (an impala), Elirio Malaria (a mosquito), and El Chavo Flapjack the octopus in a new adventure that takes them right to the heart of the Aztec underworld to retrieve their missing gato.
Observations: This had a classic caper feel to it—a fun adventure with plenty going on to keep readers entertained. Lots of action, and appeal for readers of any gender. The 2-page spreads in particular had a lot happening in them, and reward a long perusal, kind of like Richard Scarry’s books that are populated with all kinds of individual mini-scenes.
While the imagery at times got a bit “busy” and would have benefited from a little more value contrast, I really enjoyed the blend of lowrider/Chicano culture imagery with other recognizable elements from Aztec and Mexican art. It still reads seamlessly as a comic, but it has a unique feel all its own.
Also, this book was great about being educational without it detracting from the story—not just in terms of the use of Spanish language words (which was fun), but also incorporating several different mythological characters from Aztec and other traditions. The story itself was a solid quest/buddy adventure with interesting twists, and it was easy to jump in on Book 2 without having read Book 1.
|click to embiggen…|
Conclusion: While I think this would be particularly loved by Latinx kids, the fun and excitement here is sure to appeal to young readers of all stripes. I definitely found myself alternately amused and wowed, and as a California native, I felt at home in the Lowriders’ world. However, I think the whole Round 2 group of judges was ultimately enthusiastic about this as our Elementary/Middle Grade Graphic Novels winner.
I received my copy of this book courtesy of my library. You can find LOWRIDERS TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH by Cathy Camper and Raul the Third at an online e-tailer, or at a real life, independent bookstore near you!