Thursday, May 17

The Dangerous Book for Boys

Up until my early twenties I spent a week each summer at my Grandmother's home, about an eight hour drive away from the city where I grew up. I loved her house so much. Sometimes it makes me sad to think that Bumper won't get to hang out in that beautiful home, in that beautiful town, surrounded by my Dad's boyhood possessions.

Yet I'm pretty sure that due to a dominate family gene that dictates we are all pack-rats, Bumper will probably be able to feel the same way about going to her Grandparent's home and catching glimpses of my childhood.

Each year on the drive up to Nanny's, I'd plan my days and what I was going to accomplish. The house was filled with wonderful treasures that included old photos, clothing and tin toys and regardless of my age I always had something to look forward to doing. Almost every night we were there, I would settle down with one of my Dad's books that were kept under the stairs in a glass front bookcase, never tiring of the boy's-life theme from the 1930's and 40's. Adventure stories, survival tips and practical reference guides for Boy Scouts and young mechanics were the common themes.

The book I was asked to review by the Parent Bloggers Network reminded me of many of those books from my Dad's childhood all rolled up into one great package. The Dangerous Book for Boys is a fantastic reference of things for not only boys, but for anyone who likes how-to instructions, projects, survival tips, facts, and trivia -- to name just a few of the topics covered.

The book is organized along the lines of a reference book but is also mixed with short stories which are all meant to teach the reader various valuable lessons. Just think how useful it is to know how to tie the five most essential knots, basic first aid, and the rules of poker (this being completely useful for me because before reading this chapter I had to write down what card beat what and keep it on my lap which makes bluffing even more difficult than it already is for a spaz like me).

The writing is done for a young male audience but the book is useful to all. But because it is the "Book for Boys" it also includes a chapter simply titled "Girls". That was one of the first chapters I read and it started out well. I was impressed with how the first point of advice started: "It is important to listen." But then it confused me with the fourth point which instructs boys not to put their name on Valentine's Day cards in order to create mystery, and then it made me laugh out loud in point number seven which instructs on how to offer a girl help.

The book also includes "stories of courage"* like Scott of the Antarctic, a story that makes history read like a classic adventure tale. The author included these kinds of stories because they are"examples of extraordinary acts by ordinary people" that can be seen as inspirational or just appreciated for the exciting adventure.

The projects are classic, like how to marble paper or build a workbench but the steps are modern (suggesting computer grade paper) and sensible (you should start a first time carpentry project using pine since mistakes are cheaper) .

There are chapters dedicated to good, solid, basic facts like grammar rules and interesting and obscure facts like the Navajo Code Talker's dictionary. Imagine all the trivia games to be dominated and bar bets to be won after reading chapters like "Famous Battles", "Seven Wonders of the Ancient World", and "The Patron Saints of Britain".

When I read the forward, I immediately liked the authors' intention for creating this book. It starts:
"In this age of video games and cell phones, there must still be a place for knots, tree houses, sad stories of incredible courage. The one thing that we always say about childhood is that we seemed to have more time back then. This book will help you recapture those Sunday afternoons and long summers - because they're still long if you know how to look at them."*
I remember those summers, and I would love to recapture some of those hot and humid days spent in the shade with a good book. I wasn't disappointed and found the book fun to read. It also is a useful book to have around just for some of the tips and projects.

It makes me feel more confident knowing that I have facts on hand like how urine can be used to make invisible ink -- we all know that could be useful one day! Or maybe I just watch too much TV?

If you want to read more reviews about this book go check out what they are saying over at PBN and enter their contest to win a great prize. Readers who leave a comment on the PBN launch or mid-campaign post will be entered to win a two-man tent from The North Face. A super cool prize for boys and girls of all ages.


nomotherearth said...

Huh. I think that I will have to get me a copy of this one. I'm intrigued.

Kyla said...

I think it sounds great...and it might be just the thing to help BubTar stay busy this summer!

kittenpie said...

Um, you can make invisible ink out of milk and out of lemons as well, which is a little less yucky... Just sayin'!

Yes, this is a fun one.

Jezer said...

Suh-weet! But, tell me: Is there a chapter about how to make your mom pull out every single strand of hair on her head so that you can laugh at your bald mom at your 2nd birthday party? Because I think Al has already been reading this one.

Jezer said...

Oh, and even if that chapter is not included, I think I'll go ahead and get it for the little toot. Awesome review!

Sandra said...

Sounds like my kinda book. Hope your weekend is going well :)