12 November 2007
MotherTalk book review:
The Daring Book for Girls

MotherTalk blog tour
Today my blog is one of the stops on MotherTalk.com's Blog Tour for The Daring Book for Girls by MotherTalk founders Andrea J. Buchanan & Miriam Peskowitz.

The Daring Book for Girls; Andrea J. Buchanan & Miriam Peskowitz; ISBN 978-0-06-147257-2, HarperCollins Publishers (October 30, 2007); hardcover; 280 pp.

The Daring Book for GirlsFour words can easily sum up how I feel about The Daring Book for Girls:


Now let me take you back to the day when I received it in the mail. I opened the package and saw what looked like an old school textbook: uber-retro from the electric blue hardcover to the throwback font.

And then I noticed the glitter, and right then I knew this was no ordinary “Here’s what to do on a rainy afternoon with your little girl” book.

I opened it up to find even more of the retro style through font choice and drawings, which I just loved. It transported me right back to my childhood, surely one of the book’s goals, and that was before I even got to reading all the good stuff inside.

The Daring Book for Girls is meant to be a manual full of the things that young girls should know; it's set up in quick, easy to read chapters, perfect for you or the young girl in your life to pick up whenever the mood strikes and always find something interesting.

Now lest you think we’re talking about how to press flowers, making knots and stitches, how to throw a good slumber party (complete with Bloody Mary and Light as a Feather!), and putting your hair up with a pencil--although all of these are in the book too--some other subjects include: building a campfire, tree swings, how to negotiate a salary, watercolor painting, and finance (interest, stocks, and bonds).

For the athletically-inclined, there are sections on hiking, yoga, paddling a canoe, softball, roller skating, bowling, karate, climbing, and hopscotch from around the world. For the more smartypants-inclined, there are math tricks, words to impress, Greek and Latin root words, and a list of "books that will change your life."

Interspersed throughout this trip down memory lane are history lessons ("What is the Bill of Rights?") and stories of famous and notable women (among which are Amelia Earhart, Joan of Arc, and a five part series on Q
ueens of the Ancient World), which make this book a fairly complete reference book full of information as well as things to do.

The Daring Book for Girls is 280 pages of fun--a one-stop guide of what the young girl in your life needs to know and how you can teach her.

I have to admit that at first I felt a little guilty getting this book to review when I don’t have any daughters (yet, hopefully), but I quickly realized that's not a prerequisite to enjoying it. This is a great book even for those of who simply want to take a walk through more innocent times, to remember what it felt like to be out on the corner playing Chinese Jump Rope or doing cartwheels with the neighborhood kids.

And if you don’t remember the words to some of those handclap game ditties? You just might find them here. "Miss Mary Mack, Mack, Mack, all dressed in black, black, black...."

Oh, and some of us might even still find the section on boys particularly useful.

And so, with my first ever 5 espresso cups out of 5 rating, I wholeheartedly recommend this book to anyone with a special little girl around, who wants a great reference book of what a young girl’s childhood should be about, and/or who would simply love to reminisce with the help of Buchanan and Peskowitz.

It is so comforting to know that all of the silly, innocent fun that I experienced as a child isn't gone forever; indeed it's in this book.

30 days of thanks

Today I am thankful for:

The awesome memories that surfaced while looking through this book, such as:

  • endless games of hopscotch, jump rope (Chinese and regular), and handclap games I played with my cousins and the neighborhood kids;
  • what it was like when I first started to seek out books to read on my own;
  • building forts in the living room with the couch cushions and lots of blankets;
  • all of the paintings, drawings, and other art projects that helped pass many rainy days;
  • playing football on the baseball field in the winter snow;
  • exploring in the woods and picking up anything that struck my fancy from arrowheads to pretty rocks to blueberries.

Those *were* the days.

What are some of your fondest childhood memories?

P.S. I'm posting this from an internet cafe but at least I saw a rainbow on the way.

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Interesting, I heard of the Boys' version first (they're making a movie already, I believe), and that this version came close behind on its success.

I think this type of book would be interesting in trying to preserve some of our "old-school" traditions and "knowledge passed verbally" - things that I think are becoming extinct (who does hopscotch anymore, and what about roller skating?). Also, being in Italy, I will have to pass on my "Shirley Temple" jump rope songs on by myself.

I'm curious to see how they transmitted things like a song or rollerskating. I'm sure there's tons of info to put in a volume 2.

Blogger Barbara said...

Thanks for the heads-up on this book...I'm off to Amazon right now to check it out for my granddaughters' ages 3 and 5.

Blogger Roam2Rome said...

You're at an internet cafe? Uh, I know what Sognatrice will ask Santa for Christmass :)

Ah, my best childhood memories were going to the countryside and swimming in the river with my many cousins... those were nice summers!

We'd stay there week after week in an old family home with no electricity, and make bonfires and tell ghost stories at night, spooky! :)

Take care Sognatrice, and we'll hope the internet fairy visits you, soon...

Anonymous My Melange said...


So sorry to hear about your internet connection. Figured I would tell you to check your email...you won the book my dear!

Fondest childhood memories....

Having a baby sister, hopscotch, my wonderful granfather *pop-pop*, who died way too early and ice skating every Sunday in winter ;)

Blogger Valerie said...

Sounds like a fun book for big girls, too :)

Favorite childhood activity: riding my bike all over town (and country). Naturally, it was a banana-seat bike with tassles on the handle bars.

Anonymous Sara said...

Yes, I'm also wondering how this compares with the Dangerous Book for Boys, which sounded when it came out like it could also have been for girls and adults, and many women took offense at the automatic segregation implied in the title. This one sounds like it can only be for girls and adult women. Why is that?

Understand that I haven't read either of them...yet.

Blogger Amanda said...

i love that book as well. It is on my chirstmas list :)

hope you are well xx

london southern belle

Blogger Stefanie said...

I am 33, and that book actually sounds pretty useful even for me today!

Blogger Stefanie said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

One of my favorite book related childhood memories was walking with my dad and brother to the library when we lived in NYC. My mom was a nurse and had to work every other weekend. So my dad would take us to the library and let us pick out our own books. Then we would walk to the park or go home and watch a baseball game.

Blogger somepinkflowers said...

go figure...

i am on my way to buy a gift for my niece
and had not a clue what to buy.

this sounds perfect.


i so love it
when the universe plops things
we need
right down
in our lap(top)

Anonymous bella said...

Wow, that's a great review. I will put this on my "to read" list. So glad the internet is working for you!!

Anonymous bella said...

Or, rather.. you're making it work for you... LOL

Blogger witnessing am i said...

I swear I left a comment on Friday in response to your "writers need inspiration" post. I guess I did not. I really loved the quote. You may be having internet connecting problems but I am obviously having brain-hand connecting problems.

Hope you are finding your words, your word count, your inspiration as easily as breathing.

I don't have girls but I have a niece who would love this book. And if you recommend it, I am sure it is brilliant. Thank you.

Blogger Kimberly Ann said...

I've seen this book at the local bookshop; now I have a reason to pick it up. Thanks for the review.

Blogger Anthony and Lisa said...

I just put this book on my Amazon wish list and now I hope I receive it from reading your review! I can't wait to pass it onto my daugher, Sofia, when she's older.

Some great childhood memories...going to Rome every spring with my family, sitting around the table for hours after dinner, walks with my cousins and our nonna.

Blogger Meg said...

I'd heard of the boys' version as well; my son received it for his birthday. I think I'm going to have to compare the two.
I loved skating outside on ponds and flooded town squares when I was young. The unique chatter of pond ice (and I'm counting flooded town squares as pond ice, since they have that same funny bumpiness) under my skates brings the same feeling of exhilirating freedom to me now that it did when I was 5.

Anonymous Frances said...

I remember Miss Mary Mack - that was a biggie all through grade school.
The book sounds wonderful.
I always wanted to see Light as a Feather Stiff as a Board in action.

Blogger mental mosaic said...

Glad you were able to make it to an internet cafe. Is yours truly a cafe, or just an 'internet point'?

Sounds like a fun book!

I lived on a tiny island with a year-round population of 7 (sometimes 9) people. Anyway, my step-daughter and I found a box of old schoolbooks from around 1910 that were once used in the little schoolhouse there.

There were actually some fun games in those old books, and ideas for parties in which everyone would take turns reciting poems, and so forth.

Blogger Mama Zen said...

I loved this book, too! Great review!

Anonymous Jientje said...

That's what makes your day special, a rainbow....

Blogger odessa said...

thanks for the intro, this book sure sounds very interesting. i'll add it to my amazon wishlist, as my birthday is coming up. haha.

and kudos to you for being such a diligent blogger. hope your internet connection will be back again soon! =)

Blogger Jeni said...

Hopscotch, playing jacks, "Kick the Can" games that lasted as long as there was still the least tiny flicker of light -sometimes coming from the windows out to the yards -and riding my bicycle, with the wicker basket on it and my silly mutt, Duffy, perched in the basket riding right along with me! Ah yes, those were the days - indeed they were! And I was doing them a good 30 years BEFORE you even came along, Kiddo! LOL

Anonymous Tejase said...

I loved playing tetherball in the schoolyard during recess and seeing the line of challengers loop around the yard, ready to play. I loved the moment when I was done practicing piano after the hour timer sounded, quickly jumping off the bench and closing the keyboard lid with glee - it was then time to really play. Lastly, I loved going to get silky soft frozen yogurt (yes, the first time it became popular) with my mother and eating it in the car with a small plastic spoon as we waited to pick my sister up from junior high.

Sending happy internet connection thoughts to you!

Blogger african vanielje said...

trice, I have seen this book but would probabely not have done much more than flicked thru it. Now , thanks to your diligent research and raving review I will just have to get this for my daughter for Christmas.

Blogger sognatrice said...

*Sara, you hit on exactly why I'm so fond of this book--assuming any kids of mine will be raised in Italy, I feel more comfortable that these things from my childhood are written down somewhere as a reference--as if I could forget (American) hopscotch ;)

*Barbara, I really think this is a great holiday gift; glad you appreciated the review.

*Roam, there's a chapter on ghost stories in the book too :) Love your memories!

*Robin, I just saw your email, and I can't believe it; I'll be in touch! Thanks for sharing your memories :)

*Valerie, my first bike's banana seat was even yellow. I *so* miss riding around that town....

*Sara, I don't know as I haven't seen the other book, although I'm guessing the activities probably are pretty interchangeable. I think from a marketing perspective, little boys want things for little boys and the same for girls rather than just having the same stuff as their brother/sister.

*Amanda, thanks for stopping by and letting us know you liked the book too :)

*Stefanie, we're all girls at heart, aren't we :)

*NYC, how fun, and how odd--my mom is a nurse too, and worked every other weekend when I was a kid. Thanks for sharing!

*SPF, I hope your niece enjoys it as much as I did!

*Bella, ha, we do what we can. I think you'll enjoy this book on many levels :)

*Witness, don't worry--I've left plenty of comments only in my head. And I hope the special little girl in your life enjoys the book!

*Kimberly Ann, it's really such a fun book; I hope you like it!

*A & L, great memories! Thanks so much for sharing :)

*Meg, I can feel the chill going through me with your description--sounds so lovely :)

*Frances, I remember doing it a few times at slumber parties, but I always remember lifting a bit too ;)

*Tui, seven (sometimes nine) people? Oh my goodness! I'm sure you played a lot of silly games to pass the time ;) What a great find with those textbooks--I hope you still have them!

*Mama Zen, thanks, and thanks for stopping by :)

*Jientje, I'm very lucky to see as many rainbows as I do :)

*Odessa, diligent? More like stubborn ;)

*Jeni, somehow I think your memories are quite similar to mine even though they're separated by some years ;)

*Tejase, what great memories. Ah, getting ice cream is another one of my favorites, and I *do* remember when frozen yogurt first became popular!

*AV, I have to say it's probably pretty American-biased, but there's a lot of great general stuff in there as well (a lot of the how to sections). I hope your daughter enjoys it!

Blogger nikinpos said...

My Dad sent me out this book in the summer. I don't think I'm quite ready to let my 4 year old in on the joke section...

'put clingfilm over the toilet bowl, then put the toilet seat down and wait for the screams as the next person to go to the bathroom has a nasty accident!'

But we did try and grow an avocado stone into a plant. And we did the picnic, and a few other things.

Blogger sognatrice said...

Nik, I'm not a big fan of pranks generally, so yeah, that isn't something that'll be happening in my house (if my future children know what's good for them) ;)

Blogger Jen of A2eatwrite said...

The Boys' one seems more packaged and less original. As the mom of a boy, that's too bad, but the girls' version sounds like it ROCKS!

Blogger sognatrice said...

Jen, I haven't seen the boys' version, but I'm certainly interested to see it after hearing all sorts of things about it.

In any event, the girls' version definitely rocks IMHO ;)

Blogger Shan said...

As you know I really loved this book too. Great review!

Blogger BipolarLawyerCook said...

Thanks to your recommendation, I picked this up today and agree- I bought it as a birthday present for my kick ass assistant, who's the only other self-identifying "feminist" in the office. I know she will love it, and read it to her nieces.

Blogger Miss Eliza said...

This book is fabulous - i just bought it for Olive and me. I've been poring over it - what fun!

Blogger sognatrice said...

*Shan, thanks!

*BLC, I'm so happy you like it too--so much great stuff in there!

*Miss Eliza, I'm so happy you're enjoying it...and you have so many years ahead of you to continue to enjoy it with Miss Olive :)

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