The Dangerous Book for Boys

Conn and Hal Iggulden have come up with an idea so great and obvious it’s hard to imagine why no one thought of it before. The Dangerous Book for Boys is a big red hardback full of information about the sorts of things 10-year-old boys obsess over, from building a tree house, a really good paper airplane, and a homemade bow with arrows, to reading a compass, identifying constellations in the night sky, and even knowing basic English grammar. Already a best-seller in England, The Dangerous Book takes a deliberately serious and sincere tone with its many subjects, yet still conveys a sense of playful curiosity that could benefit more than just its acknowledged target audience of boys. In fact, in its retro graphic design and no-nonsense approach to such intimidating topics as dog training and girls, the book seems designed to appeal as much to the fathers of 10-year-olds as to contemporary boys themselves.

Many of the activities included are particularly appropriate for the long, school-free days of summer. Any kid who built both the go-cart and the tree house in a single summer would be an unquestioned god among boys. Divided into eight simple rules, The Dangerous Book‘s advice about girls is remarkable for its brevity and wit. Rule number one is a good one in any context-“It is important to listen.”-but rule number seven is my favorite, so I will quote the whole thing: “If you see a girl in need of help-unable to lift something, for example-do not taunt her. Approach the object and greet her with a cheerful smile, while surreptitiously testing the weight of the object. If you find you can lift it, go ahead. If you can’t, try sitting on it and engaging her in some conversation.” Try sitting on it, indeed. Have a great, dangerous summer, boys!

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