Los Angeles, California (The Hollywood Times) 4/15/2021 – Native Los Angeles kid-at-heart Lucky Diaz, whose career as a children’s musician has garnered him multiple Latin Grammy and Emmy nominations, debuts his first picture book PALETERO MAN on June 1. (HarperCollins Children’s Books).
Written with love for the neighborhoods on Eighth St that raised him, Paletero Man celebrates in the historic stretch from Koreatown to Boyle Heights, and the birthplace of immigrant street food vending culture in the city. Paletero Man. Full of musicality, generosity, kindness, and ice pops, this book is sure to keep young readers clamoring to hear the story again and again. Includes Spanish words and phrases throughout, an author’s note from Lucky Diaz, and a link to a live version of the Lucky Band’s popular song that inspired the book.
How does a Multi-Latin Grammy winner go from music to creating a vibrant picture book celebrating the strength of the community?
What a great question! Creating work for children is something I’m very passionate about. My music, like this book, are inspired by my own children and Latinx community. Bringing a taste of my own Mexican culture through my work for families is also so important to me. My wife encouraged me to write the book after our many visits to our own local Paletero Man with our daughter in Koreatown here in Los Angeles. Then came my decade-long relationship with illustrator Micah Player that really brought it to life. It’s a real family affair. I’m so grateful to HarperCollins for seeing the real value in my very personal story.
What does community mean to you?
Community is family. Family that we meet and encounter in our daily lives. Business owners, neighbors, co-workers. When you live in a city like Los Angeles it can feel very isolating if you don’t have your immediate family near. But from this deficit, magic is created. We learn to ask for help and count on each other. Los Angeles is a city of dreams and doers. In making our own dreams come true we always cheer on and support others to make theirs a reality as well. A very special community is created.
The Paletero Man is a Latin Culture Phenomenon that is becoming an American Icon. Tell us about The Paletero Man.
He’s a hero. An unsung hero of culture, community, and dreams realized. Bringing joy to children and families everywhere. Paleteros, like all immigrant street food vendors, are extremely hard working and industrious. Not only are they working to support themselves and their families, they bring the cultural and familiar flavors from home to our American Latinx communities. I remember as a child myself feeling more connected to my Mexican culture through visiting the Paletero Man. Having my own father tell me about his favorite flavors when he was a child in Jerez, Zacatecas was very special.
In my book, Paletero José reminds us all that the more you give the more you receive. When he sees how the community bands together to help the protagonist in my story he rewards everyone with a Paleta.
We’re all in this together.
From Ice pops to community, and power of determination, this is a dream for kids, plus kids can sing along to your popular song. Tell us more.
Gracias for your kind words. I think every time I get to share my own Latinx cultural identity through my work- whether it’s a song or now this book is a special gift to me. Whether it’s through my music or my book, it’s all inspired from my unique position of being a Mexican-American. I really thrive in the cross culture of what it is to be Latinx and for myself, a Pocho.
Share a few passages from the book.
Whether it’s stormy
or whether it’s sunny,
whether or not
you have any money,
I’ll always help out
an amigo in need.
Yo te prometo—
an amigo indeed!
Insert photo #3
Is The Paletero Man a movement to bring unity?
¡Claro que sí! Of course! I see the Paletero Man as an ambassador of joy and culture. I think profound progress can be made while sharing an ice cream popsicle.
Why will kids globally love your book?
I mean, who doesn’t love a cold ice cream treat on a hot day? Amirite? Whether a child lives in Shanghai or Kansas, we can all agree about that!