Paletero Man by Lucky Diaz, illustrated by Micah Player, is on sale now.
By Lucky Diaz
As a child, I remember my dad affording himself very few luxuries. He was a giver, with what little he had. He loved taking my brother and me to the panderia to choose a pan dulce, to el mercado to buy a torta, or to visit the Paletero for a cold paleta on a hot day.
My dad would chat in Spanish to the vendors about where in Mexico they came from, how business was that day, and which flavors he personally loved as a child in Jerez, Zacatecas.
It’s the exact same dialogue I have with every street food vendor when I take my daughter around Los Angeles. The food presents an opportunity to build friendship and community while passing down the pride of our Mexican culture, where we came from, and where we are today.
Plus, it’s delicioso!
Once on a particularly sunny Sábado, I took my daughter to the park and bought her an horchata paleta. Her eyes lit up with delight! It reminded me of all those special moments with my father. As I waxed nostalgic, no sooner had the ice pop touched her hand that it fell on the dirty pavement. Melting disaster! As tears welled in her eyes and I searched my empty pockets, el Paletero Man reached over and handed her another tasty treat. Smiling. Saying nothing.
That incident embedded in my heart and hers, inspiring these words from Paletero Man:
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
In reading Paletero Man, I hope young readers see the small acts of kindness and traditions in their own communities. I hope they’re inspired to help out a friend in need and how delicious trying new things can be—they can really shape our lives and fill our stomachs and hearts.
As a Mexican American and an Angeleno, I’ve taken great pride and joy in writing this culturally rich children’s picture book. And as a Chicanx parent, being able to share this culture, my family’s vibrant culture, with my daughter is really the most special experience of all.
Lucky Diaz is a multi–Latin Grammy Award–winning and six-time Emmy–nominated musician and songwriter. His work has been praised by NPR, Billboard magazine, and the New York Times. In 2020, his album Buenos Diaz was named an official selection of notable works for children by the American Library Association. He currently lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Alisha, and daughter, Indiana Maven. His favorite paleta flavor is horchata. www.luckydiazmusic.com