The Dangerous Book for Boys by brothers Conn and Hall Iggulden is a guide book for boys “from eight to eighty” that challenges the reader to “recapture Sunday afternoons and long summer days.” Though clearly inspired by what passes for play in the high-tech lives of many boys these days, this book can be a valuable resource for all members of the family. It recalls an earlier day when curious, adventure-seeking children spent more time outdoors actively involved in hands-on projects and make-believe: when cuts, scrapes and the occasional broken bone rarely resulted in litigation.
Sturdily bound and with an old-fashioned look and feel it is truly a treasure trove of activities and information. The seemingly random organization encourages the reader to flip through the pages discovering something new and exciting with every turn. The eighty-five short and accessible chapters range from inspirational to practical to just plain fun. One can learn about history’s great battles, famous explorations, and the mysteries of the universe. There are instructions for tying a good knot, building a tree house, and building a soapbox racer. Of course, as in any good guide book for boys, paper airplanes, water bombs, secret codes, and invisible inks are included.
There is even a thoughtful section on girls – my favorite is #1: “It is important to listen. Human beings are often very self-centered and like to talk about themselves. In addition, it’s an easy subject if someone is nervous. It is good advice to listen closely – unless she has also been given this advice, in which case an uneasy silence could develop, like two owls sitting together.” The entries are long enough to be informative and useful, but short enough to hold one’s interest. Readers are encouraged to keep trying, build upon their mistakes and successes, and to seek more detailed information in the areas that interest them the most.
A unique combination of The Books of Knowledge, Boy’s Life, and other publications currently out of print, The Dangerous Book for Boys would certainly have had a special place on my bookshelf – right alongside my gyroscope, horseshoe magnet, giant acorn, and skipping stones.
You may also want to check out The Daring Book for Girls by Andrea Buchanan and Miriam Peskowitz.