“Good-bye, trash-infested lot, hello plant paradise! This is going to change the face of our street forever!” — Luz, Luz Sees the Light, p. 77.
|Claudia Dávila (author and illustrator)
|Kids Can Press
|Environmental Themes and Issues
|Pollution, Consumerism, Climate Change, Fossil Fuel Extraction, Sustainable Living, Environmental Activism, Recycling
|Luz: Latinx girl. The comic also features a multi-racial cast of characters, including Luz’s Black friend Robert
|Protagonist’s Level of Environmental Agency
|Level 5: High Environmental Agency and Activism
|Middle Grade (8 to 12 years)
|The fictional city of Petroville
Luz Sees the Light takes place in Petroville, a fictional city increasingly suffering from environmental problems. Blackouts regularly bring the city to a halt, and rising gas prices have made it difficult for protagonist Luz’s family to afford fuel and groceries. Additionally, Luz discovers that many of her favorite products–designer sneakers, avocados, and pineapples–have vanished from the stores or skyrocketed in price. The comic repeatedly highlights the systemic issues contributing to these environmental problems, such as consumerism, air pollution caused by transportation, and unsustainable agriculture practices. For instance, Luz’s mother warns her, “Oil is running out and getting very expensive, so now it costs more to import goods than it used to. If we keep relying on imports, eventually we won’t be able to afford the things we need. So we should buy from local farms and businesses and produce our own stuff” (Dávila 34). Other adult neighbors serve as models for this more sustainable lifestyle, with one couple growing their own vegetables in their garden and another, Gord, using a solar charger for his satellite phone.
Luz initially resists her mother’s efforts to encourage her to engage in more environmentally friendly behavior. However, she soon realizes that humans need to alter their behavior to cope with and remedy environmental problems, stating, “But don’t people see that things are changing? And that we need to change, too?” (Dávila 66). She begins to take public transportation rather than relying on the family car, and she opts not to buy the designer sneakers she has carefully saved money for. Most significantly, she also decides to transform a polluted vacant lot into a community “farm park” where residents of the city can gather, grow their own food, and learn to live more sustainably. At first, Luz attempts to renovate the vacant lot herself, but she quickly grows overwhelmed by the momentous task. However, Luz’s friends and other members of the community soon decide to help. A two-page sequence outlines the steps that the group takes to create the park, such as gaining approval from the city, transforming tires into planters, and cleaning up litter. The comic concludes with the neighborhood attending a party at the park to celebrate its grand opening.
In 2012, Dávila published a sequel, Luz Makes a Splash.
The comic’s copyright page includes the Forest Stewardship Council logo, indicating that the book is made out “paper from responsible sources.” Additionally, the comic’s backmatter includes a four-page mini-comic, “Luz Starts Knowing: Gord Shows Luz How to Make Compost for the Food Garden!” Here, Luz’s adult neighbor Gord educates the girl about how to make compost. The comic includes a short list of foods that can and cannot be composted.