CM . . . . Volume XIX Number 11 . . . . November 16, 2012
Luz Makes a Splash is the second book in Dávila’s series of graphic novels presented in a cartoon-like style and containing an environmental message, with the first being Luz Sees the Light. In the present story, Luz’s community is facing a heat wave and a drought. When Luz and her friends go to Spring Pond to cool off, they discover that it is drying up because a soft-drink company is using the water from the spring. Luz’s mother and others in the community begin a campaign against the company. Because no one seems to need Luz’s help, she goes to the neighbourhood park which is drying up from lack of rain. She notices Mr. DeSouza installing a rain barrel, and then Gord rides by with materials for a greywater treatment system. Luz rallies the neighbourhood to install these water conservation solutions in the park. In the meantime, Luz’s friends have been helping the adults with the petition against Top Cola. The petition is successful, and the company agrees to reduce its production to sustainable levels. Luz’s Notebook at the end offers yet another water conservation solution: “Gord shows Luz how to make a water-wise garden” by digging up a lawn and replacing it with drought-tolerant plants.
The illustrations are simplified line drawings in black, white and blue. Characters are well-differentiated and emotions are clearly represented. There are several diagrams explaining concepts like groundwater and showing a very simplified version of how a greywater treatment system works; these are easy to understand and are integrated well into the flow of panels. The drying up of Spring Pond is not immediately obvious in the drawing, but this is the only panel that is less than perfectly clear. Otherwise, the art is engaging and serves the story well.
The plot is simple and exists only to convey the message. There is a subplot about Luz feeling abandoned by her friends that feels contrived. The story is most effective when it uses the various characters to dramatize the effects of unsustainable habits and the attitudes that make change difficult. At times, the story feels heavy-handed, but humour and fun illustrations will keep readers involved. Young readers will feel empowered by the accessible ideas presented.
Kim Aippersbach, a freelance editor and writer with three children, resides in Vancouver, BC.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.