November 29, 2007

Review: "The Daring Book for Girls" (with giveaway!)

When the debate over The Dangerous Book for Boys happened earlier this year, I was firmly on the side of everyone rolling their eyes at the idea of that book being just for boys. There is nothing gender-specific about coin tricks or marbling paper, for Pete's sake. So when I heard about a possible version for girls, I admit I got my eyes ready to roll again. I imagined a book with all the cool stuff from the boys' edition replaced with dumbed-down recipes and tips for making phone calls to the boy you like (squee!).

I'm so glad to find out I was wrong.

The Daring Book for Girls by Andrea J. Buchanan and Miriam Peskowitz is a compendium of craft projects, games, and stories mixed with sports, history, and science for good measure. I would have loved this book as a kid. Picture a little girl in ponytails and glasses geeking out over the Greek and Latin root word chart, making a half-dozen sit-upons and poring over the stories of real-life princesses and spies. Age the girl twenty-odd years and you've got a pretty accurate image of me with this book this past month.

The brief sections are consistently engaging and the book encourages dipping here and there in repeated readings. Page after page took me straight back to my childhood. There were the friendship bracelets we churned out in junior high and the cootie catchers so popular amongst the fourth grade set. A suggested book list full of beloved titles (Island of the Blue Dolphins, anyone?). Lemonade stands and God's Eyes. Then there were all the things I wish I had known. How to make peach pit rings or a homemade flashlight. Five basic knots and the rules of darts. Variations on hopscotch I had no idea existed. And basketball tips that would have come in handy during my ill-fated year on the seventh grade team (season total: 2 points).

The book has the retro look so popular right now, but I think the content also taps into the nostalgia of parents like me who remember a mostly unscheduled, electronic-free childhood. It's a book inviting kids to explore, imagine and create. Admirably, it achieves that without seeming dated. Vintage content with modern sensibilities.

But what truly won me over was the fact that the authors place no confining expectations on the girls who will read it. They assume they will be equally interested in making the ultimate scooter as in learning to chain daisies. They talk about tools and hardware and basic finance without treating them as exotic topics for a girls' book. All the while celebrating friendship and the accomplishments of real women throughout history. It's honest empowerment instead of treacly Girl Power. In short, just what an egalitarian mom like me looks for.

I do think a lot of drama could have been avoided if the first book had just been marketed for kids, not only boys. But now there are two books instead of one, giving us twice as many creative activities and interesting trivia to peruse. In our house the twin books will sit in a pair on the shelf and I'll pull them both down when we're looking for some lazy summer fun.

Just don't ever tell the boys that I think our book is cooler.

---
Now for the give-away!

Thanks to Mother Talk and Harper Collins (the nifty sponsors of this review), I have an extra copy of
The Daring Book for Girls to give away! Enter by leaving a comment on this post before Friday, December 7 telling us all what you would do with a copy of this book. I'll choose a winner in a random drawing.

21 comments:

Erin said...

Well I'm up for a giveaway of this book. I spent an hour ignoring the bee at barnes and nobles while I was pouring over this book and remembering doing some of these things at church camp. this would have staved off the boardom of my childhood! The bee is totally getting this book, one way or another, as any of my sons are getting its companion book.

Mindy said...

H, I am totally be up for this giveaway, so please count me in!

But I agree with Erin...from the sound of your review (I'd not heard of the book before now), I'll be getting a copy one way or the other. *smile*

In my early years, I was a bike-riding, kite-flying, basketball-playing bookworm who loved science projects as much as I loved lip gloss. My life goal is to raise balanced kids who fully explore their world and their possibilities. From this mom's angle, books like you described are one tool for doing helping them do that...

--Min

mama2roo said...

Count me in on the giveaway.

What would I do with this book? Share it with my son, my nieces and nephews who think I'm old and boring, and perhaps share soem of the activities with the kids and parents I do parenting classes with. We are always looking for ways to help the parents and the kids connect, especially when the kids have been removed from the home, and there might be something good in there for that!

Thanks for the review.

Lesha said...

I'd love to get this book for my little cousin. Thanks for the giveaway!

Megan said...

That sounds like a great book to have in a rainy day (or bored child) arsenal. What would I do with it? Dutifully store it for my future (hopefully not-too-far-off) child. :)

Anastasia said...

I'd read it with my daughters! :)

anastasia_falling@yahoo.com

Poor_Statue said...

I would add this book to my classroom library. There are occassions when my students are welcome to grab something from the shelf: a book, a puzzle, etc. This book sounds like something they would get a lot out of.

Rachel said...

First, ROCK ON! This is a fabulous giveaway! Absolutely brilliant!
I would read the blasted thing from cover to cover and make my own list of Daring things to do.
Then I would start teaching and sharing with my 4 year old daughter. I have browsed through this book at the store and desperately want to share all that is strong about being a woman with her and this book celebrates that! Kudos to y'all, and congrats to whomever wins!

Bronie said...

Hey! Great giveaway! Please count me in. I was just looking at it last night at Barnes & Noble.

L L (skyangel) said...

This looks like a very good book! Great giveways...if I happen to win, I already have a niece in mind!

Third Mom said...

What a great idea, I'm in!

Joy_Jeremy said...

I'm in...I read the reviews on this book in Newsweek and it looks like a must-read for any "Daring Girl"

Thankgsivingmom said...

Yes please!!!

I'm always in when there are sparkles involved!!!

Plus, I've got some pretty daring nieces that could use some new ideas!

KrazyMom said...

OMG, I would love this book! I have heard great things about it!! With running a daycare, it is sometimes a challenge to come up with new and exciting activities to do...that we haven't already done. I would also use it for good quality alone time with my own daughter in the evenings. We love to find special projects to do and books to read together since that is the only time she gets ME all to herself!

Thank you for the review and for this giveaway idea!

Matt and Becca said...

I'm up for it, too! Two nieces who might love it, esp. since it has a sparkly cover. I only have boys, so I'll have to get the other one for them.

Jenia said...

This would be a great gift for my niece! Count me in!

PeWee said...

Me! Me! Me! I want it!

Tammy said...

Signing up for a "givey" is always good! Thx Heather!

Kathy's Korner said...

This book looks soooo awesome!

count me in!

Thanks!

call me mama said...

Well, count me in for the give away! Thursday is still here and I thought I'd tell you a little about the girl that would get this book. Her name is Sammy and she's in the sixth grade and she's my neighbor. Sammy has girl friends and boy friends, swims on the swim team, plays on the basketball team, struggles with homework and understanding the new emotions she is feeling for friends and family as her years progress. She is strong and investigative and wants to take our recently adopted 15 month old to her senior prom. I think she would love this book.

Natryn said...

59 minutes left on your offer it looks like :)
i'd love to enter my name!
I would give the book to my niece, who could use a few projects not related to boys, tv, video games or the computer ;) lol

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