DISCLAIMER: In order to review The Daring Book for Girls for MotherTalk today, I had to brave the unruly chaos of my eleven-year-old daughter’s bedroom to find it. This book has been in her clutches from the moment it arrived, and, surely enough, I located it easily...tucked beneath the pillow on her bed.
Last spring, this same daughter and I were spending time at the bookstore together, browsing the stacks and writing down promising titles we might add to our already ridiculously long book “wish list”, when we saw The Dangerous Book for Boys by Conn and Hal Iggulden, sitting securely on the bestseller list shelf. My precocious girl looked at it and immediately chorused, “No fair! What about the dangerous girls?” and I nodded, predicting, “Don’t worry—I’m sure someone has already thought of that.” That someone, it turned out, was Andrea J. Buchanan and Miriam Peskowitz, two Philly-area writers whose writing I’d followed from their debut titles, Mother Shock and The Truth Behind the Mommy Wars respectively. I met these two women at a MotherTalk Salon in Philadelphia a couple of years ago, and was inspired even then by the spunk and wit of each--personality traits that are immediately apparent in the tone of The Daring Book for Girls, their answer to the wildly popular Iggulden book.
With topics ranging from: Pressing Flowers to Going to Africa, Friendship Bracelets to Finance: Interest, Stocks, and Bonds—this book certainly reassured any initial reluctance I may have had with regard to separating topics as “female” or “male” as these books, on the surface, could. I was impressed with the evenhandedness of the subject matter, with learning so many things I didn’t know about women’s history in spite of my women’s studies degree, and with the variety of “things to do”—which can keep my girl interested no matter what her mood is in any given moment (and any mother of an eleven-year-old girl will tell you, the ranges on these are endless). My daughter has already made a note of the contents of “Every Girl’s Toolbox”—including the glue gun, adjustable wrench, and jig saw—for her Christmas list and was kind enough to include her little brother in her initial attempt to make a flashlight from household items (an effort which was temporarily thwarted by our lack of working D-batteries). The accompanying book website has Daring Girl stationery, a printable Passport to Adventure, a Daring Girl anthem, and (our personal favorite) a set of six downloadable badges for completing the activities within each section of the book.
The Daring Book for Girls is beautifully designed, as well—with illustrations and wide pages easy to prop open as a girl is busy building her own scooter or fort, practicing her karate moves, or bird watching. I know that, around here, it is going to continue to be carried out into the front yard and tucked in between bed sheets—the grass stains and battered cover tell-tale signs of a well-loved book. Girls (of any age) with a penchant for adventure and experimentation need to have this book—but, note to self, if you want to borrow it for your own daring exploits, don’t even bother to look for it gathering dust in the delicate confines of her bookshelf…