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Snips, snails and puppy dog’s tails

Andrew FerschVail, CO Colorado
"The Dangerous Book For Boys" features sections on knot tying as well as references to high adventure like Shackleton's voyage to the South Pole.
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In a day of increasing concern over the formative years of children and how it directly affects them as adults, it is rare to hear a voice of reason claiming that a little recklessness can go a long way.

This voice usually comes from someone you’d rather not have around your children – someone likely trying to convince them to buy drugs or steal. Brothers Hal and Conn Iggulden are hardly old-school pusher-men, but in “The Dangerous Book For Boys,” they espouse reckless ideas and old-school beliefs for young males of all ages.

Hal and Conn grew up, as many of us did, climbing tree forts, playing war, trying to understand the mysteries of the forest and spending hours smitten with stories of triumph over extreme odds by epic heroes. Like many adults they grew up taking all of this for granted as part of their beloved childhood. What Hal and Conn noticed later, though, was that instead of the vivid use of imagination they remember ruling their childhood, children these days are much more likely to find refuge in technology via video games, iPods, and the like. Their response was to write a book which chronicled all the things that they loved so dearly in the hope that they would be able to encourage young boys to return to the days of go-karts, skipping stones by the river and stickball.In reality, though, this book reads more like a paper written by their parents about what they loved as children rather than a bible for young boys to follow towards a truly rich childhood. Hal and Conn write at the level of the average middle schooler, which should be their target audience; alas, they aim the book straight at young parents who feel the hobbies their children have chosen don’t live up to the hobbies they loved as children. Much of the Iggulden brothers’ book suffers from a glorification of their own childhood. There is no doubt that children could use more time in the great outdoors, more time using their own imaginations instead of video game programmers’, but it seems trite to believe that one person’s particular childhood activities have more meaning than those of another.



“Dangerous” does have great storytelling moments interspersed throughout, and for that reason alone it can’t be fully condemned. The stories shared are timeless yet relevant – even if only to movies that are now being made about those activities. Though some of these shenanigans may be relics of the past, any child or adult with a sense of adventure may find themselves lured in. Taken with a grain of salt (and in all honesty, with a little more danger), the book makes a great point about how technology has changed the world for children in the last 20 years. Pick the book up to remember your own childhood, but put it back down and take your child on a hike. Let your imaginations wander – pretend to search for secret treasure left by a famous pirate nearby. After all, the best reason to pick up this book in the first place is to connect with your kids.


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