Saturday, July 4, 2009

Book Review: The Double Daring Book for Girls

I love this book. Seriously. I loved the first book, and I love this one just as much. Maybe more. These wildly talented ladies have written a slew of books. All of them are great, but my favorites are the two Daring Books for Girls.

How can you not like a book that tells you how to dye your hair with Kool-Aid, how to make a lava lamp, how to perform a Japanese Tea Ceremony, what the meaning of courage is, how to catch a fish, how to run a magazine, how to be a private eye, how to become President of the United States, all about the Underground Railroad, how to dance the Cotton-Eyed Joe, how to shoot pool, how to say no (and how to say yes), and -- for pete's sake -- how to run away and join the circus. And that's less than 10% of the topics in the book. The information in here is terribly important, it is positively invaluable lore and instruction. I'm not kidding. Go buy one. Before you even read the rest of this review, just go buy one.

I challenge anyone to pick up this book and tell me that they made it through reading the Table of Contents without smiling, reminiscing, and also being intrigued. It's a seemingly random collection of really neat stuff that you find you are thrilled someone had the time, energy and brains to actually document. It's the stuff that's told around the campfires, discussed over dinner tables, and taught over sidewalk chalk in the driveway.

I tried to decide which was my favorite topic in the book. I narrowed it down to two of them, but it's a little like cheating since both of them are actually collections of things. One of them is "Practical Life" (pg. 253). It's subtopics are: sew a hem, sew on a button, sharpen dull scissors, plunge a toilet, stop an overflowing toilet, unseal a sealed envelope, put out a kitchen fire, fix a clogged drain, hang a picture, and get ink off your skin. The other topic is "Miscellanea" (pg. 273), and it's subtopics are: popcorn on the stove, the five longest rivers in the world, the dance moves to the YMCA song, homespun wisdom for stopping the hiccups, hang a spoon on your nose, make a wineglass sing, tin-can telephones, read a topo map and compass, whistle through a blade of grass, hide a treasure in a book, and the words to "Auld Lang Syne". Now tell me you aren't grinning, and nodding your head while you think, "Yeah, yeah!" People, just go buy this book.

When I agreed to write this review, I was told that I'd need to pick one of the activities and then blog about it. The only problem with that was that I couldn't decide which one to do! Luckily, Megan's age (4, going on 5) eliminated a few of them since she can't be trusted yet with paint (How to Paint a Room, pg. 201), hot wax (Paper Cup Candles, pg. 26 and Batik, pg. 99), wire cutters (Electric Buzzer Game, pg. 174) , concrete (Stepping Stones, pg. 189), a saw (How to Build a Raft, pg. 207), and knives (Whittling, pg. 240).

Megan and I actually enjoyed 5 different activies over the course of 3 days, but we decided to document one in particular for this review. It was in the "Fun Things to Do with Paper" chapter, item #5. Marbled Paper. Essentially you squirt shaving cream onto a cookie sheet, smooth it out, sprinkle paint on top, swirl the paint around, lay paper down on top, scrape off the paper, and let it dry. It was basically that easy, and we really had a blast! Here are some more specifics...

These are the ingredients we used:

- white paper
- a piece of cardboard for scraping
- shaving cream (foam, not gel)
- paint
- 2 crappy old cookie sheets
- a plastic fork
- a table covered in wax paper
- straws (not pictured)
- a smoothing tool (not pictured)

First, we squirted shaving cream on the cookie sheets and smoothed it out with our hands.

Without a doubt, Megan's favorite part of this activity was playing around with the shaving cream. In fact, as you'll see in later pictures, it all sort of degenerated into just finger painting with shaving cream by the end. But we still had a blast.

Then we used a smoothing tool (which is a fancy name for my thing-a-ma-bobber that scrapes off stonewear) and made the surface of the shaving cream as smooth as possible.

Next, Megan took paint (she initially used pink, purple, and red) and dabbed it on the shaving cream. We used regular ol' drinking straws to get the paint out of the bottles and sort of dropped it on the surface of the cream. Then she took the plastic fork and swirled the paint around to make designs.

When she was done swirling, we put a piece of white paper down on the surface and smoothed it out as we lightly pressed it into the paint/shaving cream. Then we carefully picked the paper up, scraped off the excess shaving cream, and viola!

We were suprised at how exact a translation there was between the pattern in the shaving cream and how it transferred to the paper. I was thinking it would be a little more abstract, but it wasn't. It was almost like putting it into a copy machine.

Next, Megan added a few more colors to her existing shaving cream (green, brown, and yellow).

After that, she continued to mix up the shaving cream until it was a discolored, semi-disgusting mess. Again, it translated directly onto the paper as a bit of a train wreck. But she loved it.

Here are her finished products:

Then, while she painted every body part she had access to with shaving cream, I started on my cookie sheet. I went for a nice, calming, ocean color theme (green and blue). I tried to get all subtle with the first pass:

And here's the result. Booooooooring!

So then I added more green, more blue, another color blue, and some purple:

Which produced a lovely piece of paper (if I do say so myself):

I mixed up the shaving cream a little more, but didn't add any paint:

And I got something in the middle of boring and cool. Here are my finished products:

Then it was time to play! Here she's scraping extra shaving cream off a piece of paper for fun:

And now we're just getting messy...

When it was all over, here is the mess that was left:

Not bad at all to clean up, and tons of fun.

We cut up our favorite parts of the paper, laminated them, and have turned them into bookmarks. Horray for Christmas and Mother's Day presents for the Grandparents!

Here's a snippet of the bookmark I kept for myself:

It really was incredibly easy and made some neato paper. I even tried what the book suggested and ran the pieces of paper under water, just to test the theory that the color wouldn't run. And it didn't! So it truly transferred the paint into the fiber of the paper I guess (as opposed to regular paint just resting on top).
Now, I am supposed to challenge you guys to try it out. If you are game, check it out. Let me know if you need more information about how to do it. Should you accept this challenge, tell me and I'll post a link to your blog.
Oh, and by the way... GO BUY THIS BOOK! You will love it.

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