Monday, December 3, 2007

Daring Book for Girls

This isn't the easiest review I have had to write. The fact is, I didn't think this was the greatest book ever written. Actually, I didn't think the book HAD to be written. Why is it the Daring Book for Girls anyhow? Why isn't it the Dangerous book? Can't girls have some danger in their lives? I don't really get why there needed to be a follow up to the Dangerous Book for Boys. In my family, the Dangerous Book for Boys was just as interesting to the girl as the boy, if not more so. Just because the title said it was for Boys didn't mean that girls couldn't enjoy it. When did we get so super sensitive to gender that we have to split everything up, anyhow. Why can't there just be one Dangerous Book for Kids? Isn't that cool anymore?

I have to admit, I was put off by the cover, which to me was markedly girly. Why glitter? I didn't think that was the best choice. My girl has never been a pink princess glittery type, and when she sees that stuff, she naturally shies away from it, which would make this book an immediate turn off for her.

But let's turn to the content. I did like the idea of a toolbox, which I firmly believe EVERY kid needs, boy or girl. We're totally into our toolbox here, so much so that it's been on the radiator cover in the front hall since we moved it. It's just too convenient to actually put away, what with the hammers, tape measures, screw drivers, pliers, etc. Because it's always out, my kids have always had total access to the tools. No gender differences there! If it's a tool, they're both welcome to it.

But some of the content was neither daring or dangerous. Chinese Jump Rope? Friendship bracelets? Slumber parties and short-sheeting beds? It's more like Summer Camp Fun for Girls. Now, I admit fully that my daughter was way too old for this book. A 15 year old girl won't find anything that she either doesn't already know or doesn't want to know. But some of the content really irritated me. Like writing Thank You notes. Ugh. This just seemed to perpetuate the stereotype that the female writes the family correspondence while the males watch sports on TV. Plus, isn't writing Thank You notes something your kids learn when they are tiny tots? I know mine were writing such notes well before kindergarten. I'm also not sure why there were so many "Rules of the Game" entries. I know my kids learned all that stuff in elementary school PE classes.

Some of the content I did find interesting, but my daughter just rolled her eyes. That child is the queen of bershon these days. I always like reading about historical figures, male OR female, so I enjoyed the sections on:

  • Profiles on Queens of the Ancient World
  • Real-life princesses around the world
  • A Short History of Women Inventors and Scientists
  • Female pirates
  • Female Olympic firsts

Some of the crafts were interesting and looked fun. We've made a potato clock, but not a lemon-powered clock. We've made a flower press, but it's quite different than the one in the book.

I'm not saying that this isn't a book you should consider. In fact, if you have an elementary school aged girl, I think this would be a fun book for her to have. But kids 7-8 seem to be the target audience, and I can't see older kids having much interest since they probably know much of the content already. What did bother me throughout the book was that it was focused on what I consider girly pursuits instead of gender-neutral things, which are much more interesting. The Boy's book was much more transferable to a girl than this book would be for a boy, and that irritated me. I'm just not a fan of any gender-specific books. It's too exclusionary for my tastes. I know most people don't think like I do, so if you do like the idea of getting separate books for separate genders, then this is a fine book for a young girl. But she has to like glitter.

1 comment:

Eleanor said...

I have not read either book, so my ability to comment is limited, but what you said really resonates with me. Yes and YES to your comments about moving beyond gendered books for boys and girls, and the way that "boys stuff" can be enjoyed by girls, but "girls stuff" doesn't transfer in the opposite direction.

That said, the content of the books sounds quite exciting, and along with the presentation reminds me of the old annuals and other books belonging to my parents that I read and loved as a kid (I'm really not that far past being one).