Friday, May 18, 2007

Mother-Talk Blog Book Tour: The Dangerous Book for Boys

A few years ago, I let out a huge rant on this blog about how hard it is these days to be a little boy. With girls, it’s all about princesses, girl power and all sorts of positive messages. My beef was seeing the lack of similar positive messages for boys. When my son was 4 and 5 there were there was nothing really out there that celebrated boyhood in all its glory.

In fact, as the mother of a son, I noticed that the world seemed to really come back with the attitude that boys are just a nuisance. In school, most of the work and school structure seems geared toward little girls’ temperament and working styles, not boys. I've seen many a parent roll their eyes when a pack of little six-year-olds comes biking down their street with Star Wars light sabers in tow. For many years now, there has been nothing that jumped up and shouted, “Hey, it is great to be a tree-climbing, skin-your-knees, collector-of-all-things, rambunctious little boy!”

Fortunately, now there is.

When I took the challenge to write a review of The Dangerous Book for Boys by brothers Conn and Hal Iggulden, I got the last spot in Mother-Talk’s 20-blog book tour, I really was not sure what I was in for in reading this unique book. What I learned was that The Dangerous Book for Boys not only embraces all things boy, but it holds these things up and waves them about, celebrating the very essence of male youth.

Have you ever wondered why your little boy is fixated on paper airplanes, pocket knives, and go carts? Maybe sometimes you find yourself baffled as to why your husband can’t turn off the World Series of Poker late at night? If these questions run through your head often, The Dangerous Book for Boys might just hit you over the head with the answer: boys (and men) are an entirely different species from girls.

When the package arrived, I opened it to find a sizable book cloaked in a gorgeous red cloth cover that was reminiscent of an old storybook opening up at the beginning of one of my favorite fairy tales. I’ll admit the book seemed intimidating at first—288 pages of dangerous things for boys to do? Were there really that many?

What I discovered in going through the book was that The Dangerous Book for Boys was really not so dangerous at all. But, it was amazingly interesting…even for a grown-up girl!

Each section of the book features an activity (building the best paper boat, how to play marbles, etc), an interesting story from history (The Wright Brothers, Robert the Bruce), or fun answers to the questions all kids have (Why is the sky blue? How far away are the stars?) Peppered in the diverse collection of information are little gems such as the section simply titled, “Girls,” with advice to the boys on how best to make nice with the opposite sex. There are even basic grammar lessons throughout, which of course delighted the writer in me!

But, if a review from a crazy old MomCat is not enough for you, perhaps you’d like to know how the book went over with the two males in my household? First, I asked my husband, a programmer type who only enjoys reading computer manuals or anything sports related, to give the book a gander and tell me what things interested him. I soon got back a huge list of sections from the book with stars next to several lines as must-read sections. The man who rolls his eyes at even John Grisham, actually said he’d like read this book!

My 7-year-old son then took his turn, as I asked him to make his list. Almost instantly he'd listed off 26 sections of interest to him and wanted to start making secret codes and writing in invisible ink immediately.

The thing I love most about this book is that I don’t see it gathering dust on our bookshelves for many years to come. The various experiments in the book all range in complexity. The stories are well-written enough to read aloud to your child, but later they can enjoy reading them on their own. This book will GROW with my son and I even plan to buy it for my 13-year-old nephew who loves the history of war and will eat up the chapters on that in this book.

Whether you have a wild and woolly boy, a giggling girl or two, or only grown ups in your house, The Dangerous Book for Boys reminds us all how very important it is to take a walk on the wild side of fun every now and then, and not be afraid to ask the whys of life. Now that’s something that even this MomCat can appreciate!

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Blogger Nicole said...

Wow! I've never heard of it but I plan to get a copy or two tomorrow! Great review, MomCat.

11:18 PM, May 19, 2007  
Blogger sophie said...

As stepmother to two girls--who aren't always into princesses, and aunt to a rambunctious taker-aparter-of-all-things-he-can-find, I think I need to get it. Too bad you can't get a cut!

11:54 AM, May 20, 2007  

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