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Letting the boys be boys?

Should kids trade in video games for Swiss army knives? The authors of  "The Dangerous Book For Boys" describe how to recapture on old-fashioned childhood.

It might be considered a parent's worst nightmare…or a kid's favorite book. In “The Dangerous Book For Boys,” authors Conn Iggulden and Hal Iggulden offer tips and instructions on interesting (and often mischievous) subjects such as how to race your own go-cart or make a pinhole camera. It inspires boys to give their video games a rest and enjoy being wild, creative and adventurous in the outdoors.

An entertaining mix of a Boy Scouts handbook, a history text book, and an old-fashioned etiquette book, the chapters include "building a tree-house," "fishing," "insects and spiders," "skipping stones," "how to play poker,” and even "hunting and cooking a rabbit.” So why is it considered controversial? Well, the essential gear list has such questionable materials as a Swiss army knife and a box of matches.

Here’s an excerpt:


You may already have noticed that girls are quite different from you. By this, we do not mean the physical differences, more the fact that they remain unimpressed by your mastery of a game involving wizards, or your understanding of Morse code. Some will be impressed, of course, but as a general rule, girls do not get quite as excited by the use of urine as a secret ink as boys do.

We thought long and hard about what advice could possibly be suitable. It is an inescapable fact that boys spend a great deal of their lives thinking and dreaming about girls, so the subject should be mentioned here—as delicately as possible.

Advice About Girls
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.

2. Be careful with humor. It is very common for boys to try to impress girls with a string of jokes, each one more desperate than the last. One joke, perhaps, and then a long silence while she talks about herself...
More on Girls
1.When you are older, flowers really do work—women love them. When you are young, however, there is a ghastly sense of being awkward rather than romantic—and she will guess your mother bought them.

Harper Collins

2. Valentine’s Day cards. Do not put your name on them. The whole point is the excitement a girl feels, wondering who finds her attractive. If it says “From Brian” on it, the magic isn’t really there. This is actually quite a nice thing to do to someone you don’t think will get a card. If you do this, it is even more important that you never say, “I sent you one because I thought you wouldn’t get any.” Keep the cards simple. You do not want one with fancy stuff of any kind.

3. Avoid being vulgar. Excitable bouts of windbreaking will not endear you to a girl, just to pick one example.

4. Play a sport of some kind. It doesn’t matter what it is, as long as it replaces the corpse-like pallor of the computer programmer with a ruddy glow. Honestly, this is more important than you know.

5. 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 conversation.

6. Finally, make sure you are well-scrubbed, your nails are clean and your hair is washed. Remember that girls are as nervous around you as you are around them, if you can imagine such a thing. They think and act rather differently to you, but without them, life would be one long football locker room. Treat them with respect.

Excerpted from “The Dangerous Book For Boys” by Conn Iggulden and Hal Iggulden. Copyright © 2007 Conn Iggulden and Hal Iggulden. All rights reserved. Published by Harper Collins. No part of this excerpt can be used without permission of the publisher.