“Find a Big Tree and Climb It”

If you haven’t figured it out yet, I am a very quirky person with quirky tastes in music, literature, etc….[crickets chirping….].  OK.  With that established (!), I need to share one of my favourite tomes with you – it is called, “The Dangerous Book for Boys” by Gonn and Hal Iggulden.  Every boy and every man should own a copy of this book in my opinion.  It is one of those bizarre little volumes that encapsulates some of the transient (love it) moments of a boy’s life.  The book also speaks to childhood free-range tomboys such as myself (I haven’t begun to discuss my archery days yet), so girls (ahem, and women) shouldn’t be afraid to explore it’s pages as well.  So, when I spied this book at Chapters during the past holiday season, I had to have it for my library.  The Librarian seemed to be OK with that idea, so I went ahead and shelved it.

With a tempting title such as this, one would think that the authors are proffering advice on performing some daredevil acts, but this is not so.  The book covers a wide range of “how to” topics including:  making the greatest paper airplane in the world (in the WORLD!! Wow!), decoding and creating ciphers, making a go cart, tanning a skin and my personal favourite – making a (long) bow and arrow.  Not only do the authors discuss how to fill an afternoon making things, they cover a broad range of topics including:  how to remember the Queens and Kings of the UK, the stories of great explorers (Scott, Horatio Nelson, Douglas Bader) and others (understanding the commonwealth, cloud formations etc.).  There is certainly a British twist to this book which makes it rather unique and refreshing.

I think I read through the volume within a few hours after purchasing it.  I kept a mental list in my head as I read the “how to” section [check, check and CHECK!].  As I pondered the book, I wished that my brother (and my guy friends) and I had this book for reference when we were growing up (but somehow I imagine we had more fun blundering our way through the construction of many unstable tree forts!).  As a reformed archer, I find the section on “Making a Bow and Arrow” quite appealing.  First, the authors provide their disclaimer (which is great, by the way) – “The bow and arrow here could be used for hunting or target practice in a garden.  Remember at all times that it is a weapon.  Weapons are NEVER pointed at other children.”  Then there are descriptions of making flint arrowheads, fletching arrows with feathers and creating and stringing the bow itself.  My father and grandfather must have helped me make about 5-10 similar bows when I was a girl (I later graduated to recurve and compound bows in my mid and late teens).

This book is a must for the young and the young-at-heart.  There is certainly something very poignant about forgetting your adult life for a spell as you reflect upon (or re-live!) childhood memories.  Plus, I think it is high time that the “boys” had something extra special for their book shelves too!  So, as instructed by the Igguldens, “Find a big tree and climb it.  Read one of these poems aloud to yourself, high in the branches.  All the authors are long dead, but they may still speak to you.”:

“If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,

Or walk with Kings – nor lose the common touch,

If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,

If all men count with you, but none too much;

If you can fill the unforgiving minute,

With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,

Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,

And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!”

-Rudyard Kipling, “IF”

Thanks for stopping by TMT.  I hope that you have a very “dangerous” day (just be safe, keep it safe….grin)! 

-Poseidon’s Muse

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