Prepper Pete Prepares by Kermit Jones, Jr.
I received this book for review several months ago and I’m long overdue on the review, sorry. I heard an interview with the author Kermit Jones, Jr. on The Survival Podcast recently and was reminded about it. It’s a children’s book about survivalism and preparedness loosely based on the ant and the grasshopper parable.
First, I think this book could be subtitled “Why Dad is So Weird”. Although it’s a brief book (as children’s books tend to be, of course), it covers a lot of ground and introduces a lot of preparedness subjects. At first glance I thought the mile wide, inch deep approach to just about every issue within the preparedness world was a weakness but the more I think about it, the more the book’s vagueness seems like a strength. Kids are naturally inquisitive and a lot of ideas in the book probably wouldn’t be understood at first by young children, which would lead to questions and discussion between the parent and the kid(s).
I really think this is one that’s best read with the child as opposed to throwing them the book and expecting a child to figure it out. When I try to think back to what I was like when I was a young child, I’m sure a lot of the material would be hard to completely grasp and I’m sure I’d have a lot of questions – which would be a good way for a parent to open up discussion on some of these things. I don’t have kids so what do I know, but I figure that getting a kid to ask their own questions probably goes over better than trying to sit little Jimmy down and tell him about EMPs, economic collapses and shit. Hell, when it came in the mail I opened it and read it with my then-new girlfriend and it led to a discussion about some of my preparedness measures. We had talked about these things before, but I suppose it’s a pretty big step to show a girl your hoard of #10 cans of Mountain House, 5 gallon buckets of beans and grains and other things while explaining your theories on America’s gradual economic decline. For those of you playing at home, she didn’t run off and agreed that it’s a good idea to store food and such.
I also think that if I saw this book when I was a kid, I’d think the pictures and the format was pretty cool. I can see the value of a coherent story with preparedness themes (i.e. the ant and the grasshopper), but the pictures and descriptions of brass tacks things like gear and action would probably stimulate thought and imagination in a child more than abstract concepts. For example, I remember watching the scene in Red Dawn where they load up on supplies before heading out to the mountains and thinking through in my head what I would want to take with me and why. I think this book would have a similar effect.
This book has a few downsides for me. First, I think some of the subject matter might be a little overwhelming, like bringing up solar flares, EMPs and plagues. That just seems like a can of worms that is probably best saved for a little later on in life. I also think that this is a book that should probably stay in the house – I can see a teacher freaking out if little Johnny brought this one to school. Prepper Pete himself advises being discreet with prepping and I think a kid bringing this book to school would definitely raise some eyebrows and draw some unwanted attention. I’ll say it again that I don’t have children so I’m a little out of the loop with children’s books, but my impression is that the style and format of the book appeals to a younger child (like early elementary) while the material seems geared towards older children (maybe late elementary). I really don’t know if that’s a fair assessment of the book or if an older kid would write it off because it seems geared towards younger kids – I remember being touchy about that and my girlfriend’s seven year old daughter always likes to point out that she’s reading “chapter books” now.
I’m not sure if this was the author’s intention, but the book would have a lot of “kitsch” value for adult preppers. I mean come on, it’s an ant that buys gold and keeps guns around to fend off looters. I think anyone involved in this world with the ability to laugh at themselves would get a kick out of thumbing through it. I know I did.
I guess there’s a series of Prepper Pete books, including one about gun safety. If I can get my hands on them, I’ll review them too.