A screaming, bright-blue comet zooms through the streets of Corona, California, in a race against the orange setting sun.
A unicorn-decorated purple helmet can’t hide the grin of the young girl tightly gripping the waist of her carpenter father, who’s hunched over his blazing motorcycle as a comet tail of sawdust streams behind them. Basking in her father’s wordless expression of love, she watches the flash of colors zip by as familiar landmarks blend into one another. Changes loom all around them, from the abandoned raspado (snow cone) shop to the housing construction displacing old citrus groves. Yet love fills in the spaces between nostalgia and the daily excitement of a rich life shared with neighbors and family. Quintero’s homage to her papi and her hometown creates a vivid landscape that weaves in and out of her little-girl memory, jarring somewhat as it intersects with adult recollections. At the end, her family buys raspados from a handcart—are the vendor and defunct shop’s owner one and the same? Peña’s comic-book–style illustrations capture cultural-insider Mexican-American references, such as a book from Cathy Camper and Raúl the Third’s Lowrider series and the Indigenous jaguar mask on the protagonist’s brother’s T-shirt. Dialogue in speech bubbles incorporates both Spanish and English, and the gist of the conversation is easily followed; a fully Spanish edition releases simultaneously.
Every girl should be so lucky as to have such a papi. (Picture book. 7-11)