L.A. Libros Fest: Interview With Raúl the Third

Brooke Sheets, Principal Librarian, Central Library,
Portrait of Raúl the Third
Raúl the Third

Raúl the Third is an award-winning illustrator, author, and artist. His work includes 2019’s ¡Vamos! Let’s Go to The Market!, a Pura Belpré Honor for Illustration, and Lowriders to the Center of the Earth, which won the 2017 Pura Belpré Illustrator Award. His latest work, ¡Vamos! Let's Go Eat, was called “utterly distinctive and delicious” by Publishers Weekly.

Raúl the Third will be one of the featured authors at the Los Angeles Libros Festival, a free bilingual book festival for the whole family. L.A. Libros Fest for Kids & Families will be streamed live on Facebook and YouTube on Saturday, September 26.

What does heritage mean to you? How do you identify and why?

I was born on the border in El Paso, TX. My Mamá was born and raised in Mexico City and Ciudad Juárez and is a Mejicana to her core. Her pride in her roots inspires me daily. My Dad was raised in Ysleta, TX, and is an American-born Mexican. Growing up in the Fifties he experienced poverty and discrimination, and while he loves la Raza on this side of the border, being a Mexican was used against you. I feel lucky to have parents who come with different perspectives on what it means to be Latinx, and through my work, I hope to make kids who are like me, proud of where they're from, and that they will be inspired to tell stories of their personal experiences.

I feel lucky to have parents who come with different perspectives on what it means to be Latinx.

¿Piensas regularmente en inglés o en español? ¿Cuál prefieres?

Yo pienso en inglés. Especially more and more as the years go by. Living in Boston for the past twenty years has changed me in many ways, but phone calls to mi Mamá bring everything back to me in seconds. When I write and draw I am constantly shifting from English to Spanish, and to the nuance of body language that exists in la gente that make up the lands of the stories I am telling.

How does your heritage inspire your creativity?

It inspires it in every single way. From the Mercado in ¡Vamos! Let's Go to the Market based on the Mercado Cuauhtémoc that my family worked at, to the apartment complex in Lowriders to the Rescue which was like the one in El Paso, TX where I spent my childhood. My work is a testament to my experiences in el Chuco y Juaritos Lindo!

Books by Raúl the Third

Book cover for ¡Vamos! Let's Go to the Market
¡Vamos! Let's Go to the Market

Little Lobo and his dog make deliveries at their local mercado. Each illustrated page is chock-full of signs and labels in Spanish, so children can learn new vocabulary in context.

Little Lobo y su perro hacen entregas a su mercado local. Cada página de ilustraciones está llena de letreros y etiquetas en español para que los niños puedan aprender nuevo vocabulario en un contexto divertido.

Book cover for ¡Vamos! Let's Go Eat!
¡Vamos! Let's Go Eat!
Raúl the Third