A new compendium of helpful skills, projects, puzzles, quotes, historical anecdotes, and other miscellany that add quality to life…if not necessarily length.
“The accumulation of knowledge is one of life’s subtle pleasures,” writes the co-author of The Dangerous Book for Boys (2007), collaborating now with his sons instead of his brother Hal. In that tongue-in-cheek spirit they offer up a fresh array of rewarding reading—beginning with detailed, practical instructions for picking a lock followed by an account of the experiences of Ernest Shackleton that highlights his extraordinary leadership skills. Tucking in well-placed photos or diagrams, they go on to recommend poems to memorize, describe select famous world empires and how to make lasagna, and, just to prove that the title is not mere hyperbole, suggest numerous ways of provoking “Interesting Chemical Reactions” with easily available materials. For what it’s worth, the authors seem to have tested all of these activities themselves, and they add cautionary notes based on their experiences. Many of this import’s U.K.-specific entries have been Americanized, but some, such as how to get a shotgun or wire an electric plug have not and may be of less use (not to say even more “danger”) on this side of the pond. With very rare exceptions the historical incidents, figures, and cultural defaults are white and Eurocentric, but at least girls willing to disdain the title and brave the pervasive male gaze are not specifically discouraged from harvesting what they might.
Salutary fare for readers who, like the authors, believe that “we should all know a few basics.” (Nonfiction. 12-15)