¡Vamos! by Raúl the Third, Colors by Elaine Bay

¡Vamos! Let's Go to the Market 
by Raúl the Third
colors by Elaine Bay
Review Copy from Versify
I fell in love with Raúl the Third's illustration style after reading Lowriders in Space, the first in Cathy Camper's awesome graphic novel trilogy about three friends who like to work on cars. I was SO excited when I learned that he was writing and illustrating a picture book. ¡Vamos! Let's Go to the Market is everything I hoped it would be and more! For me, having lived most of my life close to California's border with Mexico, this book reminds me of all the wonderful people and delicious, beautiful things - and words - from Mexican culture that have made their way over the border. If you aren't familiar with these delights, you are in for a treat! A glossary at the end of the book gives the English definitions for most of the words used,  with encouragement from the author to "look up the ones you don't know in a Spanish/English dictionary!"
Every page of ¡Vamos! Let's Go to the Market is  is like opening a box of treasures. Raúl the Third's illustrations are filled with intricate details, designs and delights. The muted pastels of Bay's colors are rich and warm and remind me of a bakery case full of conchas, a Mexican baked sweet. First reading ¡Vamos!, I couldn't help but think, "YES! This is Richard Scary Goes to Jaurez!" Instead of Huckle and Lowly Worm, we have Little Lobo and Bernabé, his dog who, appropriately, says, "¡Guau!" instead of the "bark." Together, the friends wake up, have a lovely breakfast of, "huevos rancheros con tortillas de maíz," washed down with warm milk. And, like Richard Scarry's Goldbug, characters appear, not always hidden, on most pages. Keep your eye out for street sweepers Mal Burro and Peeky Pequeño. And don't worry, gringos, there are translations and, like Richard Scarry, words for things (in Spanish) next to their illustrations on the page!
It's Little Lobo's job to make deliveries to the merchants in the Mercado. Stopping at his warehouse, he fills up his carrito (wagon) and heads off. "Everywhere people are going to work. Everyone has a different job," Little Lobo tells us as he passes all kinds of "people" (animals) on the street.  I love that the movie theater (the Buñuel, presumably named after Spanish filmmaker Luis Buñuel) has an outdoor bird cafe atop the marquee, including a "wait to be seated" sign! The illustrations are filled with as much humor as detail, and multiple readers are a must.
 
The pair's first delivery of black shoe polish to Chiva's Zonkey, where tourists are already lined up to have their pictures taken. The two are just in time for Chiva to add black stripes to her white donkey, making the Zonkey! There is Mr. Mosca and his Dulceria, Mr. and Mrs. Praderas and their sombrero shop, and Señor Puppetro (and his Cantinflas puppet), where Frida and Diego marionettes can be seen hanging next to a luchador puppet. Little Lobo delivers clothespins to Señor Duende at his newspaper stand where he is hanging up new comic books. Little Lobo and Bernabé take a break to eat churros and read his new LuchaComix featuring El Toro! As he finishes out his day, Little Lobo visits more artists, passing the hand-carved masks of Don Ruffino, the world-famous jarros de barro of Doña Ruffino, the desert plants and small houses built by Beto and Cuca Chihuahua, and finally the magnificent piñatas of Corrina Caminos and the lush paintings of El Rey Portraits and Paintings where Elvis and Priscilla Rey specialize in black velvet paintings.
The final delivery is very special - Golden Laces for the masks of the luchadores, and these just happen to be for Little Lobo's favorite, El Toro! After his match, where Mal Burro and Peeky Pequeño get caught up in the fight, El Toro asks Little Lobo for a ride home! Their busy day ends, back at home, tucked in bed. I just wish I knew what they had for dinner.... Hope there are more adventures from Little Lobo and Bernabé to come!


The Lowriders Trilogy, written by Cathy Camper


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