HowToons: The Possibilities Are Endless!
Saul Griffith, Nick Dragotta, Joost Bonsen
HarperCollins Publishers (2007)
ISBN 9780060761585
Reviewed by Ben Weldon (age 10) for Reader Views (3/08)

“HowToons” by Saul Griffith, Nick Draggota, and Joost Bonsen is a graphic novel that teaches you to build many neat contraptions with household items. The book has an entertaining storyline about a brother and sister who undertake various projects in their basement workshop.  There is information about tools, safety and creating a workspace.  There are also a few historical facts.

This book includes directions for a marshmallow gun, motor, terrarium and rocket launcher, but these are just a few of the things you can make!  I tried to build the motor from the instructions but I couldn’t get it to work.  I even worked on it with my dad who is an engineer.  Some of the projects sound really neat but you shouldn’t expect to get them done quickly or without additional experimentation.

The graphics are exciting.  There are some subtle illustrations and humor.  For example, the first page of the safety section “An Eye for Safety” has a drawing of a cut-out paper mask with a pair of scissors poking through the eye.  The siblings exchange nightmare stories of unsafe events, and Tucker says, “The list reads like an emergency room clipboard.”

I would recommend “HowToons” to people who really like to invent things, but they must have a lot of patience and interest because the projects take a lot of effort.  I liked this book but I don’t think I will try all of the projects.

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