Peak oil for preteens

Book review

Luz Sees the Light: A graphic novel series
By Claudia Dávila
Kids Can Press 2011

What will our cities look like from a preteen’s perspective in the not-too-distant future when peak oil pushes gas and food prices to new heights? No rides to the mall? No eating out? City-wide blackouts? Catastrophic! It was to Luz and her friends at first, but through a little bit of creativity and preteen gumption they discover the hidden potentials of an abandoned lot in their neighbourhood. Claudia Dávila’s debut graphic novel, Luz Sees the Light, sets Luz and her friends on a path to transform their fossil-fueled world.

Briarpatch readers will recognize Luz as the fearless, fiery and resourceful heroine of Dávila’s comic series Luz: Girl of the Knowing, which appeared in these pages until last year. Over the course of this novel, Luz grows from a consumer-crazy, fossil-energy intensive preteen to a young activist turning an abandoned plot of land into a sustainable green space – a transformation that is made believable by Dávila’s youthful prose and detailed illustrations.

This book is the first in a series. Subsequent books will shed light on themes such as water shortages, retooling transportation, food production and preservation, health and shelter in a post-petroleum world, and an array of step-by-step (re)skilling activities such as making compost, xeriscaping and creating a natural grey water filtration system.

As a high-school teacher, it is difficult to find resources that address issues of community activism in which youth can see themselves reflected on the printed page. This graphic novel allows the reader to feel as though they are partaking in the adventure with Luz and her friends as they learn about and challenge the world around them.

Airin Stephens is a high-school teacher in the inner city in Toronto, where she is slowly turning the schoolyard into raised beds for growing food.