Cool girl. Check. Impending environmental disaster. Check. Local and global content. Check. This book’s got it all and then some.
Enter, “Luz Sees the Light” by Claudia Davila. Some might consider Luz an unlikely “superhero”. She is! That’s the great thing about her, she’s a resourceful, enlightened young Latina who exemplifies the credo: Think Globally, Act Locally. Luz, – (which means “light” in Spanish and rhymes with “moose”), – faces the daily problems related to power outages caused by our over-reliance on dirty oil. Though at first dismissive of the importance of what this means on a global scale, Luz eventually sees the light and realizes that she has as much to do with the solution as anyone else. Much to her chagrin, Luz’ friends don’t necessarily share the same ideas. What’s an enlightened girl to do? Does she have the power to sway opinion? You’ll have to read it to find out what plans she and her neighbours have in mind.
Beyond this being a great read for kids of about grade 3 age and up (and adults alike), one has to appreciate any comic which disproves the antiquated belief that “comics have no place in reading”. Why do I make mention of this? Well, I’ve heard all too often, “my kid will only read comics and not real books“. Hmmnn, I’ve read some wonderful biographies and historical narratives that are in graphica form. Last time I checked, any genre – (historical fiction, non-fiction, etc.), – can be worked into this form, often called comics, – (which I”ll refer to as graphica).
Beyond that, graphica is a great way to develop reading skills! For example, graphica makes excellent use of inference skills as children often have to rely on various features of graphica to figure out what has happened in a section where the author/illustrator has chosen to leave it to the imagination of the reader. Readers also have to infer or figure out a character’s feelings and emotions.
Some suggested activities:
1. How about a discussion about WHY millions of folks are turning off the lights during Earth Hour in April. Better yet, how about chatting about more consistent (daily? weekly? monthly?) ways of using less energy or trying to use cleaner energy. Kids who want to feed their inner Type-A can graph and share the results with family members based on the findings in different rooms of your home. Over time, the improvement should really motivate you and them to make some goals around energy consumption at home.
2. Who doesn’t love new-ish toys? Well then get to it and organize a kid’s SWAP with toys, books and/or clothing. It’s fun, thrifty and a pretty good way of not buying new things that need to be manufactured (which equals taxing our Earth’s natural resources, polluting habitats and buying into consumerist notions).
3. Children can illustrate, using panels a part of a story they don’t understand, or maybe condense their favourite book into a 4 or 6-panel comic. Or perhaps do an autobiography in comic form or study science concepts using this approach. Really the possibilities are endless.
4. Claudia, Luz’s creator, has made a 4-panel blank comic JUST FOR YOU!
And because she’s cooler than cool, she’s offered passingnotes.org readers a black and white colouring pags. Just head over to her Facebook page, scroll to find a comic and “save as” to your computer before printing: http://www.facebook.com/LuzBooks
5. For the kid who likes digital technology, try these comic strip generators; just keep in mind that these digital formats have some limitations and I encourage the use of self-drawn ones as well.
I hope that getting to know Luz will provide a window of opportunity for you to jump into the world of graphica!
P.S. Author/ illustrator extraordinaire, Toronto-based Claudia Davila has recently won the Honor Award for the 2012 Green Earth Book Award:
…and if you live in the Toronto area, check out her upcoming Book Launch for the newly-published “Luz Makes a Splash!”