This vivacious introduction to ranfla (lowrider) culture takes readers on a ride to the barrio. Teresa, who is old enough to be "embarrassed by her trike," gets a fabulous birthday present from her beloved Abuelito Benny: a bright green, flame-detailed, pedal-powered lowrider. She quickly masters the ways of lowrider hotshots, making her car "dance" (bounce up and down), and when her neighbor Jose Luis, the owner of a full-size, flaming pink ranfla, expresses admiration for her carrito, she coolly responds, "I like your bomb tambien!" Soto's (Chato's Kitchen) pithy text uses a mix of Spanish and English to great effect, and a short introductory glossary helps translate terms. Drawing on the visual elements and glowing palettes of Latin-American muralists, Paparone (I Like Cats) creates a series of vignettes that pulse with energy and exude the comforting security of a tightly knit community. As for Teresa herself, she's a spunky heroine who zooms through the streets with a cool confidence that is at once comic and admirable. The book isn't quite as surefooted, however, when it comes to the larger message: Teresa fails to take proper care of her ranfla and it deteriorates until "her grandfather didn't even recognize the beautiful car he had given her." But Abuelito Benny helps Teresa restore the carrito and ultimately, the book has so much verve that readers will likely overlook this small quibble. Ages 4-up. (Apr.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Mexican-American first-grader Teresa feels too old for her tricycle, and she's overjoyed when her Grandpa Benny sends her a pedal-powered low-rider with personalized plates and flame decals. She proudly drives it through the neighborhood and "makes it dance" for the kids at the playground. But Teresa leaves it out in the rain and doesn't keep it clean. Her father nearly backs over it. Then, despite its dilapidated state, the little car saves her from a scary dog and she decides to fix it up. Grandpa Benny stops by to see the car, but doesn't recognize it; he says it looks older than him. Teresa assures him he's not old and they fix the car up together. She even lets her little sister Pumpkin sit in it, as they attach "chile" headlamps. The simple story, peppered with Spanish words-explained textually and in the glossary at the front-is well told and never didactic. Paparone's bright, acrylic illustrations bring Tomie dePaola's work to mind; they're a perfect match for the text. A multicultural lesson with lots of zip. (Picture book. 4-8)