Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Daring Book for Girls--First impressions

You've probably heard about this year's surprise publishing phenomenon, The Dangerous Book for Boys. Ever since it was released last May, girls all over have been waiting for their OWN book.

It's blue, it's sparkly, and it's almost here! The Daring Book for Girls will be released next week. But if you heard a whoop coming from the Tiemann household last night, it was because my daughter got her hands on the advance copy that had arrived in the mail. We'd bought The Dangerous Book for Boys for her, which she perused with mild but unsustained interest. But once she saw the video for The Daring Book for Girls, which she insisted watching about 10 times, she was hooked. You, too, can try this at home:

We've just gotten started, but I wanted to share some of my first impressions.

I found The Dangerous Book for Boys nostalgic in a dated, Rudyard Kipling-esque way. It felt twee and British, which makes sense since it was written by British brothers. Luckily for us, The Daring Book for Girls is written by women after my own Mojo Mom heart, Andi Buchanan and Miriam Peskowitz. They are fantastic writers with strong feminist qualifications, in addition to being mothers of girls. We are in good hands. The nostalgic feeling of The Daring Book for Girls evokes is that of my own childhood, building forts, reading Judy Blume, playing outside with my friends.

Andi and Miriam are tasked with the impossible job of presenting the collective wisdom of girlhood. The topics are presented in rapid fire succession: rules of games, how to do a cartwheel and back walk-over, how to make a lemon-powered clock, introduction to the periodic table, bandana tying, math tricks, how to build a scooter, Queens of the Ancient is all interesting.

The book is clearly positioned as something that Moms will buy for their daughters, and in the video it's all about a Mom and her girl doing these activities together. It struck me that "back in the day" much of this knowledge was passed from girl to girl, older sisters either teaching little ones, or being spied upon by them.

I believe we have lost that, which is sad. Kids are in organized sports and activities and don't have as many unplanned hours to fill with activities like rubbing a peach pit into a ring.

I hope this book will re-inspire some of those relationships. I also noted a strong link with what I remembered learning as a Girl Scout. Even before I officially joined a troop, I had an old garage-sale copy of the Girl Scout Manual, circa 1975, that I loved to read. The Daring Book for Girls covers much of the same ground, even including six Daring Girl badges at the end of the book. I would encourage Andi and Miriam to think about pursuing that connection. The Girl Scouts are the world's largest organization dedicated to girls ages 5-17. It's easy to take them for granted, but having spent a week at a Girl Scout World Center in Pune India, I really came to appreciate how revolutionary the idea of a global girls' organization really is.

After Thanksgiving I'll be reporting back on what my daughter and I have learned from the book, whether the activities make it into her play with her friends, and I'll invite you to share your comments and favorite girlhood memories.

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Blogger PunditMom said...

I can't wait to get started looking at it with PunditGirl!

2:12 PM  
Blogger Claudine Wolk said...

I, too, really enjoyed "Dangerous Book for Boys." I have high hopes for this book.

9:02 PM  
Anonymous Lisa Giebitz said...

I picked up "The Dangerous Book For Boys" for my husband (which will someday go to my son) and I think I'll have to pick up the girl's book too. You know, just in case. :)

I was a Girl Scout for many, many years and I'm planning on volunteering locally in a few months. After I really get the hang of this baby thing, heh.

1:55 PM  

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