After all the brouhaha over the Dangerous Book for Boys last spring I couldn't wait to get my hands on this book when MotherTalk announced a blog tour. I really couldn't see the need for designating the boy book as being for boys, since any of us could and did do the things in it. I feel a lot the same about the girl book, but then I have sons and I am not about to let them think that making God's Eyes or playing Four Square is a girl thing.
The Daring Book for Girls, by Andrea J. Buchanan and Miriam Peskowitz, is a compendium of fun stuff to do and make, as well as brief histories of women inventors, the letters of Abigail Adams, and queens of the ancient world. There are geographical facts about the countries of Africa and the South Sea Islands, a list of state capitols of the U.S., and descriptions of how to paddle a canoe or build your own wooden swing in a tree. Each subject gets only one or two pages written in clear, straightforward language. I am fascinated with the explanations of the rules of the games for bowling, playing darts, softball and double dutch jump rope. I think I played Chinese jump rope a little differently than Buchanan and Peskowitz, but the spirit is the same.
There is a section on boys (brief and to the point; boys are people.) There is a section on princesses and a list of French terms of endearment. There are directions for how to put your hair up with a chopstick (mainly to get it out of the way) but it is not overly romantic or fussy. It's not a "pink" book; no beauty tips, make-up discussions or manicures. The closest thing to the kind of "home ec." suggestions girls used to get when I was young are the pages on Japanese T-shirt folding, what you can do with vinegar and baking soda (including washing the car and making a volcano) and making a lemon-powered clock.
Some of my favorite pages are the crafty ones like how to braid a friendship bracelet, make a cloth book cover, make a willow whistle, but I also like the pages on how to read tide charts and negotiate a salary. In short, I am spending some very entertaining hours flipping through this think volume reading over the parts I think I could already do on my own, to see how these authors write them up, and eagerly reading the new-to-me sections to see what fun projects I could try next. I am thinking of giving this book to my sister and niece for Christmas because I think they would have a lot of fun with it. First I'll have to experiment with some of these projects myself!