Monday, December 10, 2007

Holiday Shopping Suggestion: Dangerous and Daring

There are two books out on the market now that you might have heard of: The Dangerous Book for Boys by Conn Iggulden and Hal Iggulden, and the Daring Book for Girls by local area authors Andrea J. Buchanan and Miriam Peskowitz. Both would be excellent holiday gifts for youngsters, say 13 and under, from parents, uncles, aunties, grandparents, or other interested adults.

In the introduction to the Dangerous Book, the authors state:

Boyhood is all about curiosity, and men and boys can enjoy stories of Scott of the Antarctic and Joe Simpson in Touching the Void as much as they can raid a shed for the bits to make an electromagnet, or grow a crystal, build a go-cart, and learn how to find north in the dark. You’ll find famous battles in these pages, insects and dinosaurs – as well as essential Shakespeare quotes, how to cut flintheads for a bow and arrow, and instructions on making the best paper airplane in the world.

What more could you want? There is also a short (1.5 pages) section on girls, very age appropriate. For example, it says that girls are not as interested as boys in using urine as secret ink. Generalizations can be tricky but I think this is a pretty good one. It also suggests being involved in a sport. “It doesn’t matter what it is, so long as it replaces the corpse-like pallor of the computer programmer with a ruddy glow.”

The Daring Book also has sections on knots, lighting fires, and building scooters and short biographies (though of women here), as well as the periodic table and birdwatching. There are practicalities – how to change a tire, information on stocks and bonds, and the whimsical, how to make daisy chains and friendship bracelets. My favorite, though, is the part on how to tie a sari. It conjures up such images. Every sophisticated woman of the world, whether she hails from small town or big city, should know how to tie a sari. You never know when you’ll wake up in India and need to know. It could happen, or why else would it be in the book?

Both books have badges that can be copied or printed off a website, if the reader is a badge collector.

What I like most about both books is that they are not logically arranged. This is not something you sit and read cover to cover in subject order. The sections are put together with no apparent pattern. You just dip into it. It could take ages to work all the way through, in bits and pieces, here and there.

What fun.

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