Thursday, November 08, 2007

Oops...I was supposed to review a book!

It's been "one of those days!" It seems that I had some homework due tonight and I plum forgot all about it. I'd say that my dog ate it, but I don't have a dog and we all know that cats don't eat homework. So I'll just call it a "Senior Moment" and be done with it. Fortunately, I remembered that I owed a book review tonight before the day was out. Better late than never, I suppose. And so, for your consideration, I give you my thoughts on:


My first thoughts upon hearing about this book were a bit dismissive, I must admit. I seem to recall saying to myself, "Oh really! A book for girls? Are we not a bit past the point where we are separating ourselves by gender? How sad that we seem to think that there are 'girl' books and 'boy' books. Thank heavens I have moved past this point and evolved to a higher level"
I then proceeded to fluff my up my hair, reapply a bit of lipstick, wipe a little smudge off those new killer boots that I snagged last year with the oh-so-perfect-heel and head out to pick up some plumber's tape to finish up installing that new shower head.
And that's when it hit me.
There are things about being a girl that I sort of like. And I really like living in an age where I can celebrate my femininity without compromising my sense of self or independence. This, my friends, is a very cool thing. And something that made The Daring Book For Girls a "must read" for me.
When my review copy arrived, the very first thing that struck me was the quality of the book itself. This is a book! It has the look of an old primer from days past and the heavy feel that reminds me of those favorite old volumes from my grandmother's shelves. Visually, it is incredibly appealing.
Once opened, the book's introduction makes mention of the amazing technological advances of our time and celebrates the fun new toys this age has afforded us. That nod given, the remainder of the book is dedicated to the art of living in the world in real time. It is chock-full of activities, both for groups and an individual, that use the simpler things.
For those who might be worried that this book could lean towards the more "girly" end of things, fear not. The very first chapter is a mini lesson on the rules of basketball and many other gender-neutral sorts of activities are included. Yes, there are a few of the things that would probably appeal to girls more than boys. The art of making daisy chains springs to mind first. But, I have to admit that I am intrigued. Rest assured that, come Spring, I will be attempting this. And I am the least girly person you'll meet!
In addition to some good, old-fashioned fun games and craft projects, The Daring Book For Girls features many biographies of famous women in history with a focus on leadership. These are sprinkled throughout the book at various intervals and serve to highlight the potential of the games and projects quite nicely.
In terms of readability, I would place this book at the higher end of the spectrum as compared to some others I have reviewed. Overall, it falls somewhere between a 7th and 8th grade reading level. Knowing that many schools are now reporting children's reading scores in Lexile format, I checked to see if this book had been included in that database. To date, it has not, but it is a fairly new release and it is likely that it will be coded soon. I can cast a very wide net and say that it will probably fall somewhere between 700 and 1300 on the Lexile scale, but ask that you view that estimate with a great deal of caution. And, as always, I also ask you to remember that my inclusion of grade levels is for parents to use that as just one part of the decision making process when choosing books for their children. A book with a reading level that is higher or lower than a child's grade isn't necessarily a bad choice for them. As parents, you know your children and their ability to manage reading challenges.
Given that it is more of a reference book, parents need not be concerned with regard to themes or content as they might with fictional stories. The authors do, however suggest that some of the activities be performed with adult supervision in order that all safety measures be taken into consideration. This is, of course, common sense. With appropriate and simple precautions, none of the games or projects in this book should prove dangerous in any way.
The hardcover version is a rather large book and might prove a bit unwieldy for smaller hands. This is not necessarily an issue for most children. I bring it up only because I ran into this problem with my primary school students who, as advanced readers, were almost falling down trying to lug Harry Potter back from the library. However, this is a book that was meant to be used and loved. Hence, parents should expect it will travel. If I were still of the Sleepover Age, there is no way I would miss bringing this book along in order to refer to the section on Telling Ghost Stories.
I became a Mother-Talk book reviewer in order to collect books that might be of use in my classroom. And this was my intention with The Daring Book For Girls. I thought that having it on hand for my female students might be useful for helping them to come up with writing topics, group discussion material and free-time activities. Sadly, this is not going to happen. I have become rather hopelessly in love with this book and I am afraid that it is going to live with me rather than go to my school bookshelves. There are so many nuggets of information ranging from how to successfully run a meeting to writing with a fountain pen that I am unwilling to part with it. I will, eventually, purchase a copy for school. I promise.
And there you have it! A solid "thumbs-up" for The Daring Book For Girls! What began as a disgruntled rant over the tendency of our society to separate the girls from the boys became a celebration of all things girl! Who knew?
Again, sorry for the late posting on this one. We'll do better next time, I promise! Have a great Friday and I'll catch you on Saturday.


mehitabel said...

I've already ordered it for my Denver granddaughters, and will probably get a copy for myself as well. I got The Dangerous Book for Boys for the 13-y-o grandson, too. Nothing wrong with girl stuff and boy stuff, as long as boys learn to cook and clean (we called it Bachelor Survival when my sons were learning it) and girls learn to change tires and fix plumbing!
Thanks for the review!

Yarnhog said...

I bought the boy-counterpart ("The Dangerous Book for Boys") for my sons. They have been very busy making bows and arrows ever since.

Mel said...

Hmmm, copies may need to be purchased for the nieces and nephew (well, the boy version for him).

Teri S. said...

You're right, Sheepie, that book sounds like it would be good for my niece. Of course, the next problem will be getting her to actually read it. Despite what she says about liking to read, the family is skeptical. But nonetheless, you have provided me with one Christmas gift idea. And Yarnhog has provided me with a gift idea for my niece's brother. Thanks!

nancy said...

I'm so glad there is a Girl version of this book. My husband insisted we buy the Boy one when it came out; and I was a bit annoyed at it because it was 'targeted' to boys. Adding it to the Christmas list for the daughter....

Annie said...

It really sounds great. I too loved the Dangerous Book for Boys for my two boys- my oldest son looks at it at least a couple of times a week. I would have loved for this book to have been around when my daughter was younger.

Great review!

trek said...

You know what? My dog really did eat my homework once. It was my music for band class. I brought the chewed and mangled pages to the director as evidence.

Funny, he was not amused.

Knitting Linguist said...

Ooh! I'm adding this one to my list for my girls. It sounds perfect for them (although we've learned that not all parents like it when people tell ghost stories to their kids...). Might not be able to wait for Christmas, though...

knitseashore said...

This sounds like a book I would want to read if I were in that age group, lots of fun ideas to try! Looks like a lot of lucky daughters and nieces here are going to be really glad to get a copy for Christmas.

Beth said...

I'm so glad you reviewed this book! It sounds like one I'd like to get for E (and read for myself, too).

Anne said...

That's on our list for the girls now too -- although ghost stories are definitely out (as it is one of them sleeps with a light on).

crzjane said...

Thank you for the review. This sounds like a should have, must have book. I'll have to order a copy (for me and probably get one for the Grandgirls).