Lowriders in Space


Lowriders in Space
by Cathy Camper
Illustrated by Raul the Third

Readers Theater

Book Trailer

Author Interview

Illustrator Interview

Related Activities & Resources:

Author Information:
Cathy Camper Bio:

Radio Interview with Author:

Author Interview:

Author Interview:

Megan McDonald interviews Author:

Cathy Camper Twitter Page:

Lowriders in Space Facebook Page:

Illustrator Information:
Illustrator Facebook Page:

Illustrator Interview:

Illustrator Interview:

Lowriders in Space Illustrations:

Activities from the Publisher:
Lowriders in Space Teacher Guide

Lowriders in Space Activity Kit

Space Activities:


Jigsaw Puzzle of Earth – can change number of and shapes of pieces:

Jigsaw Puzzle of View of Earth from the Moon – can change number and shape of pieces:

NASA for Kids – lots of information and terrific graphics about the solar system and beyond; nine puzzles with degrees of difficulty; your weight in space; four ion engine puzzlers:

Black Holes:

Spanish Activities:
Alphabet in Spanish:

Shapes and Colors in Spanish:

Numbers in Spanish:

Car Activities:
How a Car Wash Works:

Build a Kids’ Car Wash:

How a Car Engine Works:


Car Facts for Kids:

Early Cars:





Dynamics of Flight:

How Do Planes Fly?:


Discussion Questions:

Do you enjoy reading graphic novels? Why or why not? If so, do you have a favorite book or series? How does it compare with Lowriders in Space?

What do you think of the author using Spanish words in this story? Did it make the story more authentic? Be sure to read the author notes at the end of the book.

This book is the first in a series. What do you think will happen on the road trip in the second book?

Compare the town/city you live in or live near with the one depicted in this story. Would you like to live in a town like the one used in the story? Why or why not?

Have you ever watched someone work on a car? Describe what they did or what they were fixing. Do you know any women mechanics? Would you like to be a mechanic?

What do you think the author meant when she described El Chavo with the description: “When he polished a car, he spun over the paint job like an eight-pointed ninja star flying through the night”?

Do you like to create art? What tools do you use? After reading this book do you think you will try to draw using ballpoint pens? Why or why not?

In the story, Lupe said that when she was young “I learned to use what I had… to make do.” Elirio said, “We couldn’t afford brushes and paint, so I made my own.” Have you ever “made do” with something because you didn’t have the real thing? Did it work?

If their car had not gotten detailed in space, do you think they still would have won the competition? Why or why not?

Were the descriptions and illustrations accurate when the characters talked about or the graphics showed the location and description of objects and planets in space?

The first time Lupe started the car, do you think she expected it would fly in space? Why or why not?

What was your favorite outer space upgrade to the car? Why?

Lupe, El Chavo, and Elirio liked their job of working with cars, but they dreamed of having their own garage. Do you know anyone who likes what they do, but wishes they could be their own boss or work someplace else? Are they doing something to make it happen? Do you have suggestions for them?

Why do you think the author and the illustrator didn’t put text on the page that shows El Chavo, Elirio, and Lupe in their car zooming towards the Black Hole? If you had designed the page and you added text, what would it say?

The judge said the Lowriders in Space entry was “truly a universal car”. Do you agree? Why or why not?

Would you like to ride in or own a Lowrider car? Why or why not?

The author chose an octopus, an impala and a mosquito to be the main characters in her story. Do you agree or disagree with her decision? How would the story have been different if humans had been used for these roles?

Have you ever used old or recycled parts to improve something or create something new? If yes, what was it? Did you like the result? Would you do it again?

Have you been asked to judge a competition? If so, what did you judge and what was your experience like? Would you do it again?

How much money do you think they won? What is a fast and accurate way to count it?  If the grand prize had been a car do you think they would have entered? Why or why not?

Book Talk Teasers:

Read pages 8-15.

Read pages 22-23.

Read Alikes:

ALA Suggested List of Graphic Novels:

TLA-Maverick List for Older Readers:

Little Maverick List for Younger Readers:


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Book Reviews:

Lowriders in Space.
By Cathy Camper. Illus. by Raul the Third.
2014. 112p. Chronicle, $22.99 (9781452121550). Gr. 3–6. 741.5.
First published October 15, 2014 (Booklist).

Lupe Impala, El Chavo Flapjack, and Elirio Malaria love fixing up cars together, but they are tired of working for tough old el jefe, so when they see an ad for a universal car competition—including a category for ranflas (lowriders), their favorite kind of car—they get busy fixing up the hunk of junk in their yard so they can win the contest and open their own garage. It’s slow going until they stumble on some old plane-engine parts, and then things really start flying when, ¡que chido!, their rocket-powered car zips into space for a stellar detailing job. Raúl’s snazzy panels—impressively drawn in only red, blue, and black ballpoint pen on tea-stained paper—resemble an amped-up Mighty Mouse cartoon rendered in anarchic yet skillful doodles. It’s a joyfully explosive style, and it perfectly matches the Latino characters and barrio setting. Camper sprinkles Spanish slang throughout (all defined in a glossary at the end) and closes with a note about the development of lowriders by Mexican Americans in Southern California after WWII.¡Estellar!Sarah Hunter


Horn Book:
Camper, Cathy Lowriders in Space
112 pp. Chronicle 2014. ISBN 978-1-4521-2155-0

(3) 4-6 Illustrated by Raul, III Gonzalez. Lowriders series. To win a competition, animal friends Lupe Impala, Elirio Malaria, and Flapjack Octopus build a rocket-powered lowrider out of space materials collected as they drive through the galaxy. The unique ballpoint-pen illustrations explode with energy as the hip, witty text drops occasional Spanish slang. An afterword explaining the history of lowrider cars puts the graphic novel into cultural context. Glos. (Spring 2015 Guide)


School Library Journal:
Lowriders in Space
Gr 4–8—Camper introduces readers to Lupe Impala, Flapjack Octopus, and Elirio Malaria, three friends who love working with cars and dream of having their own garage shop. One day they see an opportunity to achieve their goal—a car competition where the prize is a “carload of cash and a solid gold steering wheel.” When they start working on a lowrider to prepare it for the competition, an out-of-this world journey begins. Through anthropomorphic characters, the author narrates a tale of friendship, teamwork, and the passion for lowriding. She incorporates astronomy to this adventure, providing readers the opportunity to familiarize with terms from both worlds. Raúl the Third’s colored pencil-and-marker illustrations effectively depict images from the lowriding subculture, while including references from Mexican pop culture, such as the iconic comedian Cantiflas and Chespirito’s El Chavo del Ocho. The way he alternates among full-page artwork, spreads, and non-rectangular panels works well with the story and strongly supports its visual understanding. However, although it is true that some Latinos code-switch in their conversation, the use of Spanish words didn’t feel organic to the story. There is also inconsistency in the use of accents, and footnotes that point readers to phrases and word meanings are explained as “nonsense words in Spanish,” when that’s not necessarily the case. Lowriders in Space fills a gap of Latino graphic novels for kids, and its quirky characters and illustrations have the potential to engage children. Let’s hope that future installments will have a more accurate and natural use of Spanish. A helpful glossary of astronomy and lowriding terms is appended.—Sujei Lugo, Somerville Public Library, MA


The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books:
Camper, Cathy. Lowriders in Space. Illustrated by Raúl The Third. Chronicle, 2014. hb 9781452121550, pb 9781452128696, ebook 9781452130507

This buoyant graphic novel highlights lowrider culture with all the flair the subject deserves. Three eccentrically anthropomorphized animal pals labor under a demanding boss, hoping for the day that they can open their own garage. A contest to find the vehicle with the best detailing seems promising, except for the minor problem [End Page 249] that they don’t even possess a car to make fancy. However, that problem is nothing that an abandoned junker, some cleverly gathered supplies, and a trip through space won’t solve, and the resulting car is truly magnificent. There isn’t much plot in this graphic novel, as it is clear from the start the earnest, cooperative friends will emerge victorious, but it’s obvious that the story isn’t really the point here. The magnificent red, blue, and black pen drawings set against lush, creamy backgrounds make each page individual works of art, the illustrator balancing charm, hipness, and artistry perfectly in the loopy yet stylish car buffs. In addition, the automotive slang and smooth Spanish/English mix are as fun and engaging as the central narrative arc, and the charm even extends to the copious end materials, which include a glossary, artist note, an impeccably edited note about lowriders, and an epilogue. While the author makes it clear that being poor isn’t some sort of magical state of being that inspires happiness, it’s also evident that the one with the most money doesn’t always win the day, and that a community that supports you can compensate for a great deal. It’s not a bad takeaway, and artistically inclined readers will undoubtedly leave not only delighted with the story but also inspired by the artist’s extreme low-tech approach to drawing that produced such impressive results. Review code: R*– Recommended. Gr. 5-9. April Spisak (The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, January 2015 (Vol. 68, No. 5))