I’m honored to kick off this interview series with the brilliant, Pura-Belpre Award-winning Raúl the Third! His recently released, widely-starred ¡VAMOS! LET’S GO EAT tells the bilingual story of Little Lobo as he bikes through his border town gathering delicious food truck treats to feed seven luchadores before their big match in el Coliseo. The talented Elaine Bay colored the images.
If the story resonates with you, I hope you will:
- Find your favorite indie bookstore online (mine are Books, Inc. and Keplers)
- Order ¡Vamos! Let’s Go Eat for yourself or someone you love
- Spread the word! Share this post, write about the book on your own platforms, keep the buzz alive. It is a win:win:win for your community, the author, and for YOU… this book is a treasure!
Without further ado… enjoy the following conversation with Raúl the Third!
Your favorite food from the book? Mine is el elote!
It’s hard for me to choose! I love so much of the food I drew. You can’t go wrong with tacos. There are so many varieties. For sure a breakfast burrito. Simple like huevos con frijoles or papas con rajas algo asi.
How would Little Lobo pass time during a shelter in place?
Little Lobo has been very helpful during this time. He is physically distancing himself, washing his hand, making sure he is keeping a clean ship but he is also making deliveries. Many people in his neighborhood are older so he is picking up groceries for them
I am so taken by the bustling streets, non-stop action, and vibrant community in your story. What I wouldn’t give to be exploring those food trucks with my friends and family right now! What do you hope kids take away from this story?
That life is about so much more than just ourselves and our closest loved ones. That we are a part of something much larger and everyone everywhere is important in making things work. That even a simple walk can be filled with stories and excitement.
When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I read my first comic book. I was probably 11 or 12 and the combination of art and story blew my young mind.
Do you write plot or characters first?
Usually situations pop into my head or maybe a visual for a spread. It’s pretty random but if ideas keep resurfacing I pursue them and start taking notes. I always ask “What if?” This takes me in multiple directions. Once I’m working on final art I leave backgrounds open to opportunity for characters to interact. Their actions provide more story and on and on we go!
Do you have a valued writing habit or quirk?
I like to get things done and when it comes to drawing my ability to lose myself in the image. It seems very alive to me while I work on it.
Can you share a meaningful moment in your journey of bringing this book to life (drafting, querying, publishing, marketing, etc)?
Being asked by Kwame Alexander and Arielle Ekstut to be a part of Versify Books. I had been only an illustrator up until that point but they believed I should be writing and illustrating my own stories. I am now working on my fifth book with them and we have so many other interesting projects we are creating for the near future. My success as an artist has been successful because of the people who have supported me over the years. I couldn’t have done it without them.
What are your words of wisdom for aspiring writers?
Join a group of amazing people and make art together.
Who is your writer hero(es)?
A lot of my friends are my heroes in the way they approach their stories, their work ethic their life missions. Cathy Camper, Kwame Alexander, Phil Bildner, Isabel Quintero, Jerry Craft, Jarret Krosoczka. I’ve learned a lot from them.
What is giving you hope today?
November and the opportunity to begin healing all of the negativity that has overcome our country over the last four years.
¡Vamos! Let’s Go Eat is published by Versify, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and launched on March 24, 2020.