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Maker Comics: Survive in the Outdoors

by Mike Lawrence
2021  / 123 pages

When mom and dad go off on a trip on their ownsome, Sophia and Alonso are driven to their grandpa’s to spend the weekend fishing with him. Neither of them is wild about it, but thankfully they aren’t bratty about it either: they do love their Grandpa, or Abuelito as they call him.

When the kids get to their grandpa’s house, it turns out the old man has a few tricks up his sleeve to build up enthusiasm for their outdoor expedition the next day: he gets them both doing a couple of fun projects.

The first project has Sophia and Alonso building their own “buddy burner” – a candle of sorts that can be used as a handy fire starter, or even as a small camp stove in a pinch. To make it they have to melt wax and pour it around a cardboard spiral they cut out of a box.

There are 8 projects in total, all described in detail so readers, with some parental supervision, can try them too. Some can only be done when you are actually out in the woods, but others can be practiced closer to home.

  1. Build a buddy burner
  2. Create your own compass
  3. Learn how to fish
  4. Start a campfire
  5. Cook a fish
  6. Learn some first aid basics
  7. Learn water purification basics
  8. Build a shelter

After they get out in the great outdoors, their Abuelito twists his ankle, and they are forced to stay in the woods for the night and put these last three lessons to use.

This is a survival 101 text disguised as a comic book, and author Mike Lawrence has done a good job of it – boys will be intrigued.

Boys will also like a required bit of potty humor. To survive in the woods, you do need to learn how to do a #2 without a potty. Thankfully grandpa is up to the task of teaching how to do this right. I never knew there were so many different ways you can squat! The topic could have gotten distasteful easily enough, but this was done well.


Cautions are limited to the other entries in this Maker Comics series. We liked Draw a Comic but there is definitely a woke edge to some of these others. So these two get two thumbs up, but the series does not.


Buy this one for your 10 to 12-year-old son, but only if you plan to put the lessons to use. Otherwise, it would be too much of a tease.

All in all, a very fun, and very instructive introduction to surviving in the outdoors.

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Book Reviews, Graphic novels

Maker Comics: Draw a comic

by JP Coovert 2019 / 124 pages Cartooning was a fascination as a kid, so I've read a few different books on how to do it, and I think this might be the best overall introduction I've seen. One of its strengths is the way it teaches - via a comic adventure! Our guide Maggie, and her dog Rex, are trying to fulfill her grandfather's dream of having a comic library, but the villain of the piece, Dr. Stephens wants to turn the building into a parking lot. How can they stop him? A discovered treasure map might lead to just what they need to buy the building. Alongside their treasure quest, readers are given 6 projects to complete: Learning the parts of a comic Planning a comic strip Drawing your comic strip Making a one-sheet, 8-page comic Printing your one-sheet comic Make a bigger comic book There's piles of information here, but kids only have to use the bare bones of it – just a pencil and a sheet of paper – to start making their own mini-comic books. And if they get into it, then they can dive back into the book to learn more about the different pencils, pens, brushes, and techniques they can use to get better. There isn't a lot of help offered for actual drawing techniques – kids will have to turn elsewhere to find more on that. What this book is about is equipping kids to get a running start in presenting their story or joke in a polished and yet still easy-to-do manner, even while their art skills might be at the stick figure level. They can get excited about starting and completing an actual comic. The only caution is a minor one, a passing mention made in one of the comic captions about dinosaurs living 65 millions years ago. My 10-year-old daughter and I have read another in this "Maker Comics" series and found Build a Robot a lot harder to get off and running with – you need to have a spare small motor lying around. That said, Draw a Comic did have us interested in checking out others, and we also enjoyed Maker Comics: Survive in the Outdoors. We did discover though, that like many books published after 2020, one of the later additions to this series bent their knee to the LGBT lobby: the kid in 2021's Conduct a Science Experiment has two moms. ...