Sharing this post on social media? Use this image description to make it accessible. [Image description: Illustration from ‘Luz Makes A Splash’ by Claudia Dávila. Luz walks past a utility pole with a poster calling to sign a petition against water pollution.’]
Luz Makes A Splash
Graphic Novel, Best for ages 4.5+ years
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It’s a gorgeous, sunny day, and we have a yard full of toys and interesting bugs. But my kids won’t leave the house.
I don’t really blame them. It’s almost 100 degrees, we have no shade, and it hasn’t rained for a week, so we’ve got no rain barrel water to play with. So for the last week or so, they’ve been huddled in the dark, cool basement, playing video games and throwing toys up and down the stairs. Screaming. Screaming loudly. I very much need it to rain or cool down outside.
Which makes this the perfect time to read Luz Makes a Splash. The cover doesn’t hold much promise – it looks like a basic summer book, right? Kind of bland?
But oh no! OH MY GOSH IT WAS SO GOOD!
This was a pretty short read, both the 6 & 8-year old found it riveting, and the author tied together a whole host of complicated subjects (feeling left out, collective action, climate justice, corporate accountability, more good stuff) into one short graphic novel.
Parenting is Praxis: Reading is only the first step
With photos! Because this was HARD-ASS-WORK that took a long sweaty time, and I am very proud of it! Also look at how much fun this is for the Earthquakes!
I wish we had found this book earlier, because it’s way more fun to start these projects with a story to introduce it. But we have to take action to mitigate pollution, climate change and get back to sustainable land stewardship – and we can’t wait until we find the perfect story to do it.
In Luz Makes a Splash, they worked on a community garden, and concentrated on working with local businesses – which is perfect for folks who don’t own land. We live in a single-family home, which gives us the privilege to shape our land. The actions we took started four years ago and they are very time consuming to do things like dig out a rain garden by hand.
So I get it – this isn’t something you finish tomorrow. But you do have to make a firm commitment to keep plowing forward, and some of these actions you can do today.
Whether this story inspires you to start a new project together with your kids, or to finally finish one up (guilty – we still haven’t moved stuff around to make space for new trees), here are some actions we took after learning about the importance of water conservation and protecting groundwater.
Actions you can take this summer
- Demolished our pool to conserve water and reduce use of harsh chemicals. We managed to buy a pre-foreclosure home in a super-expensive neighborhood because no one wanted this decrepit, maintenance-heavy death trap. But you know what? That fucker did not bring me joy, so I got rid of it, even though it’s not on Marie Kondo’s list of stuff-to-toss. But also getting rid of a pool requires a lot of permits! And it’s expensive! And it turns out there are very few affordable opportunities to teach kids to swim in our neighborhood!
So it’s not an option for everybody.
- Create a rain garden to divert runoff away from storm drains into permeable land. Water runoff from our property used to go directly down our driveway and off our lawn into the storm drains – picking up nasty stuff off our asphalt roof & road to deposit in the local river. Now, we’ve changed the slope of our property, created water breaks on the paved areas, and directed rain barrel overflow to a giant pit where water collects and has time to sink into the ground water. Along the way, soil and plants clean the nasty stuff out. (Similar to Luz’s mini marsh).
- Installed rain barrels on our downspouts – at first to fill the pool, and later to water the garden and play in. We live near Boston, where this is legal. In dry areas, it’s illegal to withhold water if you’re upstream of others, so check what’s okay for your area.
- Plant trees – For more on how this supports healthy rainfall and stabilizes our micro-region we’ve taken above, check out the graphic novel Trees: King of the Forest, which we read alongside Luz’s story. We’ve planted five (three survived assaults from the Earthquakes) and we’re planting two more this autumn.
- Kill the lawn – we’re slowly ripping up the lawn, replacing it with vegetable beds and native plants for pollinators. Since the Earthquakes play here, it’s slow going, as they need some space to run around.
- Shut off the shower or faucet while scrubbing – water stays off unless we’re actively rinsing. Seriously, most folks with basic gross motor control can do this one.
Planned Praxis: We’re going to take a tip from Luz’s story
Research local manufacturing & energy plants
We’ll be looking into what companies are local to our community, what natural resources they use, and how they mitigate pollution. Are there local organizations advocating for stricter regulations? How can we join them?
For example: over the years, we’ve contacted our local representatives, signed petitions, and spread the word on projects such as the Weymouth compressor station and how it’s a form of environmental racism & classism. These kinds of projects always end up in the back yard of undeserved communities of color, leaving vulnerable communities exposed to health issues and air pollution. And it might have made a difference.
This is your go-to book for…
- Ages 5+
Definitely elementary aged kids. Honestly, I think teens and adults could enjoy it too.
- Summer reading
- Families living under water restrictions & drought
I start to panic when it hits 100 degrees in Boston and it hasn’t rained for a week. This gave me a grip.
- Gifts for gardening enthusiasts
- Little free libraries near community gardens
I’d collect this in a book basket with…
You might also like: Raising Tomorrow’s Fathers – Children’s Books With Feminist Dads
Is this #OwnVoices?
Author & Illustrator: Claudia Dávila (she/her)
Yup. Luz is first or 1.5 generation Latinx living in the US or Canada. Dávila was born in Santiago, Chile, and now lives in Canada.
How we calculate the overall awesomeness score of books.
Transparency & Cahoots!
I borrowed a copy of this book from our local library (which we support with donations) and screened it with my kiddos at age 6 & 8. Also I get that we have to practice what we preach but damn some of this praxis was expensive! If you find these articles helpful, join our Patreon community to and support this work.