I recently received a review copy of “The Daring Book for Girls” by Andrea J. Buchanan and Miriam Peskowitz (HarperCollins, 2007).
The first thing I noticed was the attractive simplicity of the cover – aqua with a bit of shimmer in mysterious font. I was intrigued by the cover, the title, and the concept.
I was impressed by the focus on educational and athletic activities, as opposed to the more superficial focal points of many books geared to girls (fashion, boys, cosmetics, etc.). Girls are advised on everything from how to write in cursive to how to press flowers to how to do a cartwheel to how to make a paper airplane to how to give a speech. The sections are packed with helpful info – how to change a tire, how to write a thank you note, basic first aid, building a campfire, the periodic table of elements. This is girl scouting 101 in one handy manual.
Intermixed with all of the detailed “how-tos” are stories about famous and not-so-famous women throughout history and throughout the world that are role models for girls (Joan of Arc, Cleopatra, Amelia Earheart, and female Olympic athletes).
I was disappointed, however, in the discretion of the authors/editors in the selection of some of the content of the book. There is a section on palm reading and a piece about “Slumber Party Games” – which I was excited about, until I discovered that the only games listed were Bloody Mary, Truth or Dare, and Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board (a levitation ritual). Plus, movie suggestions for a “scary movie festival” on page 82 included The Exorcist and The Shining. My assumption is that this book is geared to the preteen/tween set (8-14 years old) and these recommendations seem inappropriate for that audience.
As I flipped through the book, I also wondered if the “old-fashioned” look and feel of the pages would turn modern girls off – or if it would be captivating. Would girls buy into the textbook-like format? Since my little girl is only one, I can’t have her give it a “test run” just yet (she’d probably just tear out the pages).
Aside from the indiscretions mentioned, I’m glad to have a copy of this book around. It’s a useful reference manual – even for adults (I plan to read the “Bill of Rights”and the “Finance: Interest, Stocks, and Bonds” sections carefully – what great refreshers!).