Training Day (El Toro and Friends)

by Raúl the Third (Author)

Reading Level: K − 1st Grade

Readers will fall in love with Raúl the Third's unique visual style as Kooky Dooky helps luchador El Toro train for his next wrestling match! Perfect for readers of Elephant and Piggie, comic book fans, and kids looking to practice both Spanish and English.

Little Lobo introduced readers to his wrestling hero El Toro in Vamos! Let's go to the Market!. Now El Toro is off on his own adventures in this early reader series!

Task #1: Getting out of bed. Usually that's not so hard, but being the champion luchador isn't easy. Today, El Toro is feeling uninspired. But his coach, Kooky Dooky, knows that practice makes better and it's important for El Toro to stay in shape and keep training!

These eye-popping illustrations will appeal to comic book fans and encourage visual literacy, with an easy-to-follow mix of Spanish and English vocabulary words. Readers will cheer as El Toro's spirits are lifted with a little help from his community and he trains hard to win his next big wrestling match against The Wall!

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Kirkus Reviews

Comic-book and lucha libre fans alike will not tap out of this semibilingual smackdown.


Starred Review
In typical ¡Vamos! style, a vibrant world bursts to life on every page, filled with movement and a detailed host of cartoon characters, though text and images are simplified to accommodate beginning readers. Raúl offers a lesson in visual literacy, utilizing speech bubbles and panels in addition to traditional narration.

Publishers Weekly

Pura Belpré Medalist Raúl the Third expands the ¡Vamos! universe in this jaunty spin-off series opener following the luchador El Toro and his friends. In this installment, rooster and unrelenting luchador trainer Kooky Dooky endeavors to motivate a lethargic El Toro to prepare for his match against The Wall, a powerfully built wrestler "made out of bricks" and "undefeated champion of the world." Sporting a nightcap and comfortably burrowed underneath star-patterned blankets, El Toro gives excuse after excuse, in English and Spanish, to avoid training ("I'm tired. Estoy cansado"), but the sprightly Kooky Dooky remains undeterred ("You are not tired. You slept for eight hours!"). The action picks up once Kooky Dooky persuades El Toro to try a training regimen--readers are treated to a montage of El Toro performing a series of increasingly hilarious tasks (e.g., hitting "the Spiked Piñatas of DOOM!"). As in the World of ¡Vamos! books, the creator, alongside colorist Elaine Bay, utilizes comics-style layouts and an eye-catching, lightly faded color palette. Though the big match-up between El Toro and The Wall feels truncated, lively banter and humorous illustrations make for an absorbing early reader. Publishing simultaneously: Tag Team (El Toro and Friends). Ages 4-7. (Apr.)

Copyright 2021 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

★ "A generous touch of giddy surrealism continues to make Raúl the Third's faunal milieu a destination, lovingly detailed in frenetic compositions and Bay's SweeTart-hued digital colorization. Exercise and toilet cleaning are rarely this much fun." —The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, STARRED review

★ "Simple sentences and recognizable—yet entirely fresh and original—plot structures set up young readers for accomplishment. Visual and linguistic whirls and twirls match the fast-paced tempo of lucha libre, serving up dazzling Chicano English....This pizzazz echoes throughout the chillante palette of matte violet, teal, and orange hues, animating the dynamic motion lines in comic-book-style drawings, rewarding attentive eyes and ears with endless detail and inside jokes."—The Horn Book, STARRED review 

"The unstoppable Raúl the Third brings his border barrio to rip-roaring life with plenty of humor, embedded Spanish, and Chicano cultural references.... Comic-book and lucha libre fans alike will not tap out of this semibilingual smackdown."—Kirkus
Raúl the Third
Raúl the Third is the Pura Belpré Award-winning author-illustrator of the World of ¡Vamos! series and illustrator of Lowriders to the Center of the Earth. He grew up in El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juárez, México, and now lives in Boston, Massachusetts, with his collaborator and fellow artist, Elaine Bay, and their son, Raúl the Fourth.
Twitter: @raulthe3rd
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Publication date
May 20, 2021
El Toro and Friends
BISAC categories
JUV043000 - Juvenile Fiction | Readers | Beginner
JUV011030 - Juvenile Fiction | People & Places | United States - Hispanic & Latino
JUV032160 - Juvenile Fiction | Sports & Recreation | Wrestling
JUV008110 - Juvenile Fiction | Comics & Graphic Novels | Humorous
Library of Congress categories
Humorous stories
Coaching (Athletics)

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