Book Review: The Daring Book For Girls

(To whoever bought  copy of The Wonder Weeks for $137, please return it! It's not worth that much money. I feel horrible because I'm sure my recommendations have contributed to this insane arbitrage of the book. I'm figuring out a workaround for the shortage of copies, and will keep you updated.)

Book review of The Daring Book for Girls by Andrea Buchanan and Miriam Peskowitz.

Remember back when we were talking about* The Dangerous Book For Boys and speculating that the book for girls wouldn't be as cool?

Wrong, wrong, wrong. The Daring Book for Girls is right, right, right.

This book covers so many topics, from essential gear to pressing flowers to being a spy to karate moves to negotiating a salary to Latin and Greek roots to making a lemon-powered clock to queens of the ancient world. Stocks and bonds? In the book. Peach pit rings? In the book. Building campfires? In the book. Slumber party games, rules of basketball, math tricks, making friendship bracelets, book lists, and tons more.

Don't tell my sons, but this book has more cool stuff than the boy book does.**

Honestly, the only essential thing I can think of that isn't in the book is rolling your own tampon from toilet paper in an emergency. (The target audience for the book is 8 and up, though, so tampons aren't an issue for the younger end of the audience.) Even wearing high heels is in the book, in the section on dangerous things. With a note that once you get good at it, you can even run and do karate moves in high heels.

I was lucky enough to go to the NYC reading the authors gave last week. One of the things they said was that they think it's vital to preserve so many of these "girl skills" that have been passed down from generation to generation, but have fallen out of favor because girls now are supposed to be tough. That really resonated with me. If I can be a CEO and also a knitter, then why should girls not learn how to braid friendship bracelets? By ignoring these traditional things that girls have done for fun, we're reinforcing a message that girls are only supposed to like certain things.

The other things Andi and Miriam said that was a big zing right to my solar plexus was that when they were looking around at other books for tweeners, so much of what they found was about makeup, and boys, and their bodies. So they specifically wrote a book that didn't deal with sex and makeup and bodies, but about being smart and capable and fun. They have a page about boys in the book that's remarkably sensible and human. I don't have a daughter, but this is a book I would have loved as a tween and would give to a hypothetical future daughter. I've already recommended it to at least a dozen people.

My mom called as I was writing this. I'd sent her the book after I finished it, because she's sort of the ultimate Girl Scout, and was always doing projects with me when I was a kid. Her review:

"I'm surprised at how much it looks just like one of the old Girl Scout manuals! It has that same look and feel, and encouraging tone that makes the girls feel like they want to do all the projects and learn all the facts. The disclaimer at the beginning that girls should do the projects exactly as written, and with an adult's help, was also important, because then they're spending time with an adult who can pass down the knowledge and tradition. I find the whole book fascinating, and you knew I would, [insert her embarrassing nickname for me here]."

Then she told me which ones of her friends she was going to show the book to today.

Buy the book. Did I mention that you should buy the book?

* I think it's fascinating that this discussion about gender and roles and toys and books is the most heated, vicious, and offended we've ever been on

** In all fairness, I think that may be because the authors of the boy book are British and restrained, while the authors of the girl book are American and prone to excess. Ha. Kidding.