MotherTalk review: The Daring Book for Girls

By now you’ve certainly seen the turquoise cover of The Daring Book for Girls sparkling on the bookstore feature tables and the bestseller lists and the morning shows and YouTube and the blogs. Whereas The Dangerous Book for Boys was a surprise sensation, Daring Girls hit the market with a clear path to the stars.

It’s the perfect setup for a mediocre book; a "jump on a hot market" opportunity that would sell no matter what its quality. And guess what?

This is an excellent book — surprising in its content, beautiful in form, and full of years’ worth of fun for any girl (I would place the age range at 7+).

I’m sure Collins has great editors and all that, but I credit the book’s magnificence to its two authors, Andrea Buchanan and Miriam Peskowitz. These women worked long and hard through the summer to write this book. I know what it’s like to write a book under a tight deadline — it’s a killer (especially with kids!) — but they did it, and their care and attention shows on every page.

Some of my favorite details:

  • How to tie a sari
  • Princesses today (with not an Ariel or Belle in sight)
  • Cootie Catchers
  • Abigail Adams’ letters with John Adams
  • Building a campfire
  • Rules of the game: basketball (I’m 5′ 1" and have always wanted to play)

Beautiful illustrations throughout by Alexis Seabrook.

Some critics were all ready to pounce with their grumpy sniping and eye-rolling about "the state of parenting today" as reflected by the success of Daring Girls and Dangerous Boys. Gotta rain on someone’s parade, eh? Here’s what I have to say to those jaded editors:


Wipe the sneer off your face, grab a copy of one of these books, and head out into the woods with your favorite boy or girl. If the schedule’s too tight, Central Park will do. Have a little old-fashioned adventure, remember what it was like to be young and open to the world, then go home for some hot chocolate. With marshmallows.

The Daring Book for Girls is a Featured Find in the Parent Hacks Store. But (shhhhh!) keep an eye out because there may be a giveaway in our future…


  1. says

    I am so excited about both of the books, but the book for girls especially. My daughter felt left out when she saw the online videos for DBFB. I can’t wait to get a copy.

  2. Annette says

    I flipped through this book at Costco the other day. I have “Dangerous” (for my son), but I can’t wait to have a daughter so that I have an excuse to buy this incredible book!

  3. Parent Hacks Editor says

    GeekLady: Really? I loved the sparkles. I love that athleticism, smarts, inventiveness, adventurousness AND girliness is celebrated in this book.

  4. says

    That cover was enough to almost make me dismiss it outright, it’s hideously girly in the “I’m a little princess/angel/mini streetwalker” fashion, and I hate that trend.

  5. helene says

    The book for girls is apparently on its way for a holiday present. My girl isn’t so much of a girl. She’s all sports and science. Would it rend the fabric of the universe if we got her the Dangerous Book for Boys, too?

  6. Ruth says

    What holiday tradition do we enjoy most? We love taking a night to qrap presents as a family (for our extended family – not each other). We pt christmas carols on the record player, make hot spiced cider and appetizers, and just enjoy a mini-party for our own little family. This also makes wrapping more a fun activity and less a chore.

  7. Andrew says

    What holiday tradition do we enjoy most? The early evening Christmas day relaxation. The kids play with their new toys and we can lounge with leftovers and eggnog. Total calm after the storm of Christmas traveling and parties and anticipation.

  8. Jenn Strobel says

    The family tradition we enjoy most is our Christmas Day tradition. The day officially starts at 7 a.m. (no one is allowed downstairs before then), we turn on the local classical music station to listen to the christmas music, and we unwrap our gifts for each other. Then we load up everyone else’s gifts and head to my sister’s house for Christmas Breakfast and then the family exchanges gifts. The rest of the day is spent lazing around with each other and then we head home for our family dinner together.

    We all look forward to Christmas Day because it’s the only day that everyone is around rather than only having some portion of the family because of work travel, school, sports, and other commitments when we see each other throughout the year. We’re all together for a whole day.

  9. says

    I buy a special ornament every year for each son and my husband. We open these on Christmas Eve and put them on the tree. We then look at the ornaments from years past and talk about our favorites and good memories. When the boys get married they will take their ornaments and start this tradition with their own families.

  10. andy says

    While others are slogging/slugging it out looking for the perfect Chinese-made “must have” at the mall/keyboard on Black Friday, we head for the hills and hunt down our xmas tree. It’s a nice cleansing breath before diving into the seasonal madness.

  11. says

    The holiday tradition I enjoy the most is “playing Santa”. On Christmas day, one person gets to wear the Santa Hat, and takes on the job of handing around the presents to each person – one at a time, saying who it goes too and who its from, and we all watch as each person opens each present. It’s the job of the Santa to spread things out so that the turns are rotating reasonably, especially since the kids generally have more presents than the adults. Last year I knit my own special Santa Hat for the household, which made it extra special. Usually I like playing Santa, but last year I was tired, sick, and pregnant, so one of my partners wore the hat and played Santa instead, and he did a great job.

  12. says

    Our family includes two children, 2.5 years and 7 months old. This is our first Christmas with a child that sort of understands what is going on so I’ve been thinking a lot about what traditions I want to establish. We are going to give a few a try this year and see what “sticks” into the future.

    I dug out my ancient yet wonderful magnetic Winnie-the-Pooh advent calendar. (It got me into the spirit during all those years on my own when I would only be with family for a day or two before and after Christmas.) So far, my son is enjoying putting a new magnet on it each morning.

    We will bake holiday cookies next weekend, and invited some of his little buddies to join us.

    I am still working on a plan for Christmas day. I also want to incorporate doing something for those less fortunate than ourselves.

    Great question! We have the Dangerous Book for Boys and now that we have a daughter, the Daring Book for Girls will have to be added to our library too.

  13. Jenny Simpson says

    I love making Christmas cookies. Growing up my mother would always let us help as she made dozens, and dozens of fun sweet treats. We would them get to deliver them to our neighbors. I remember the joy it brought to them, and I have now began to extend the joy to my neighborhood. My children 3 and 1 will accompany me as we deliver the goodies this year. If I could I would deliver cookies to all of you too! Merry Christmas to you all!

  14. Tisha says

    My husband and I have reserved Christmas eves for ourselves (and now our children). No running around visiting family or friends one last time – just relaxing at home and maybe a bit of last minute shopping. Then we either go out for dinner or order in.

  15. Anne says

    My favorite holiday tradition is stringing popcorn and cranberries for the tree. It’s pretty unusual, always looks beautiful, and is a great opportunity to relax and talk.

  16. Nicole says

    Our favorite tradition: watching A Christmas Story on TBS. It’s something I have been doing with my stepfather for at least 8 years now, and then I got my partner hooked and now I look forward to including our son (he’s only 16 months). We watch it usually in the evening after our big Christmas Eve dinner. Now my partner and I have added the South Park late night Christmas Eve marathon to our favorites. The best thing about family traditions, they are unique and organic.

  17. Robin Weiss says

    I love to clear off the floor in the hall and pull out our collection of dreidels. We then spin and playfully argue over the rules while noshing on dark chocolate gelt… The laughter and fun is even better than the chocolate. Have you ever had the pleasure of playing dreidel with 7 kids?

  18. Kate says

    We have a beautiful 3 year old girl and a lovely 5 month old boy, and we’re looking forward to being able to enjoy both books with them eventually!
    As we’re in Australia, it’s a family tradition to have a lazy game of cricket on Christmas day after lunch, having been to midnight mass the evening before and being allowed to open one present before going to bed. Hope we’ll get to do all these things with our little ones one day…

  19. says

    Our favorite tradition: At some point in time during the year my husband and I buy a Christmas ornament in commemoration. We decided to do this with our 9 month old son as well and I am looking forward to getting to put the ornaments on the tree and to look back at where this year has taken us and to wonder about where we are headed.

  20. Emily says

    I can’t wait until my twins are old enough to read this book!!

    Regarding family holiday traditions … my favorite one has always been stringing popcorn for the tree! As a kid, our family did it one night every year and it really got us into the holiday spirit!!!

    Would LOVE to win a copy of the book!!!

  21. says

    What holiday tradition do we enjoy most? Here on the first night of Hanukkah– I have to say we enjoy lighting the menorah and placing it in the window(no curtains of course) in our very Catholic neighborhood! :) As the only Jews in our small Irish village we like to let our Hanukkah flag fly! Thanks for the lovely review, I will definitely pick up a copy when we are in USA next if we don’t win one!

  22. Lisa says

    My favorite tradition is cutting down our own Christmas tree.. When I first met my husband, we spent all day and drove over 300 miles to find the PERFECT tree! I also have a tree skirt that my kids do a handprint on every year. It is amazing to see how little fingers grow!

  23. April says

    Every Christmas we make cookies from a generations-old family cookie recipe. They are difficult and break easily, but there’s nothing like passing them around on Christmas Day, savoring the sweet crumble of family through the years.

  24. hedra says

    Oh, the sparklies. I detested sparklies until I had the girls, and then realized that the world has changed a bit, and there’s nothing wrong with letting my girls be as girly as they want as long as they’re not restricted at the ‘other end’ of the spectrum. Likewise my boys – passion for beauty and art as well as tools and weapons… I want them all to appreciate the full range. And last night, one of the daughters wore pink flowered tights to bed, where she was tucked in with her giant shark and a diecast pickup truck. Awww. Sparkly Engineer Scientist, she! Dresses with workboots, and she’s not going to be a princess, she’s gonna be QUEEN. Heh.

    Though you can count me *out* of the book giveaway for the moment – I’ll probably get it eventually, but priorities are elsewhere for now, and those who want it more than I are welcome to its joys. :)

  25. says

    Our family tradition is still my favorite from when I was a child. We go to the 11 pm service at church with the whole crew. We have a candle light singing and then we all go into Christmas feeling like we are so close to God and Jesus. It makes my heart happy and I love teaching my sweet girl what the true meaning of CHRISTmas is, together as a family.

  26. Julie says

    We take our Radio Flyer wagon with removable sides down to the tree lot near our house and carry our tree home in it.

  27. Amanda says

    The holiday tradition I enjoy the most is making our Christmas ravioli with my mother, cousin and Aunt. We use leftover meat from the Thanksgiving turkey, just as my grandmother and great grandmother did for many years before us. They used the turkey to strech their dollars, we now use it to honor them at the holidays, and to keep the tradition alive. I am proud to carry on the tradition, and this year, I get to share it with my daughter for the second time. The payoff comes on Christmas eve when we all sit down for our big Christmas eve ravioli dinner!

  28. Cecily T says

    My favorite holiday tradition is decorating the tree with my family. We play Christmas music, and look at all the ornaments, remembering them; whether they came from a goofy tourist shop somewhere or were handed down from my great-grandmother. I can’t wait for my daughter (5 months) to be old enough to help!

  29. erika says

    Christmas day is always full of (enjoyable) chaos as we travel from house to house trying to fit in time with every branch of the family. To balance this out, we have created a little quiet family tradition of opening our gifts for each other on Christmas Eve. We turn off the lights, put on Christmas music and our Christmas pjs, and open our gifts by the light of the Christmas tree. Santa still arrives overnight to stuff stockings, but we get the pleasure of watching the kids open and enjoy their gifts from us before they get totally overwhelmed the next day.

  30. says

    Our family tradition is called “Hide the Pickle”…sounds dirty huh? It’s actually called “The Christmas Pickle and is an American tradition related to the Christmas tree. Our family decorates the Christmas tree with ornaments including one glass pickle. On Christmas morning, the first child to find the pickle on the tree would get a special gift and would supposedly have a year of good fortune.

  31. says

    Our favorite holiday tradition is counting down the days to Christmas with homemade Advent countdown “calendars” that we make ourselves. I cut out strips of pink and purple construction paper, and we make them into rings that are linked together for the number of days from the beginning of Advent until Christmas. Then the kids tear off a strip each day. When they are older, we will probably add good deeds to each strip for them to do during the season, but now they are all under 7 so they just tear off strips. At the top is a Christmas picture that they have colored or picked out from an old Christmas card. It’s such a simple thing, but the kids really enjoy it!

  32. Michelle Levine says

    I am a HUGE fan of Miriam Peskowitz so I am thrilled that this book is getting such a positive response. I look forward to sharing it with my daughter (and maybe learning some things myself … hardly the daring type!)

    My family enjoys the simple tradition of lighting the menorah(s). It seems that we have to light more than one because different menorahs are meaningful and we want to include them all.

    There is just something so spectacular and powerful and peaceful about turning off the lights, lighting the candles and watching the light reflected in our children’s eyes. Really beautiful and moving (and free!)

  33. Jennifer says

    My daughter will turn one two weeks before Christmas, but I’m really looking forward to baking Christmas cookies with her and to the three of us choosing and decorating the Christmas tree together. This is such a special time of year to share with children!

  34. Megan says

    My daughter is 20 months, so we’ve been “trying out” some different holiday traditions to see which one meshes best with our family. The one that Maebry likes most is our Advent calendar. We had a crafts night at church where each family made their own, and we have uncovered 3 pictures so far. She loves to peek back at the pictures we’ve already uncovered, and we make a big deal about finding each new number and talking about what’s in the picture. It’s been a fun way to get her excited about Christmas.

  35. Jen says

    Our favorite tradition is having our small Christmas with just the three of us on Christmas morning and then cooking a big breakfast together. It’s a nice way to relax before the day gets hectic.

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