Camper, Cathy. RAUL III, Illustrator. LOWRIDERS TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH. New York: Chronicle Books. 2016. ISBN: 9781452138367
Lowriders to the Center of the Earth is about three friends who lose their beloved cat during a series of earthquakes. As they seek after their pet, they find themselves in the realm of Mictlantecuhtli, the Aztec god of the Underworld.
Lupe is an Impala who earns her living as a mechanic. Elirio Malaria the mosquito is a very detailed artist. El Chavo Flapjack the octopus is especially well suited to wash the cars, due to his many hands. Their diversity lies in the diverse nature of the creatures they represent; other than their ethnic names, they do not stand out from any other ethnicity who embarks on a quest to find a missing pet.
The friends' quest leads them to the realm of Mictlantecuhtli, the Aztec god of the Underworld. It seems Mictlantecuhtli mistakenly believes the cat belongs to him. It is this setting that is relevant to diversity. Mictlantecuhtli is from ancient Aztec mythology, the Aztecs being the ancestors of today's Hispanic culture. The illustrations of Raul III truly rings this myth to life.
According to https://www.raulthethird.com, he is "an award-winning illustrator, author, and artist living in Boston. His work centers around the contemporary Mexican-American experience and his memories of growing up in El Paso, Texas and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico." It is Raul's work that makes Lowriders to the Center of the Earth authentically diverse. He drew on his personal experience visiting Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.
The theme of Lowriders to the Center of the Earth is friends working together to accomplish a goal. Regardless of ethnicity, diversity, or biological taxonomy, it takes loyalty, dependability, and cooperation to attain a goal.
If it were not for the cultural markers of Spanish words being sprinkled throughout the text, and the setting of the ancient Aztec mythology, this would hardly be considered a work of diverse literature. Cathy Camper, a self-proclaimed Arab-American, was born and raised in the northern United States, most recently living in Portland, Oregon. It feels as if she is deliberately throwing in Spanish to make the book seem more diverse, as well as choosing the Aztec legend to make it seem credible as diverse literature. It seems forced.
Library Story Time:
Read Lowriders to the Center of the Earth.
Make an Aztec headdress out of construction paper and feathers.
Hold a Mictlantecuhtli party. The costumes and role play would be especially fun during the Halloween season. Teens would especially have fun with all of the skull images that could be used for decorations.
“Raúl The Third.” Raúl The Third, www.raulthethird.com/.