Secret Diary

Archive for February, 2008

Girls with Pens

Posted by Miriam on February 8th, 2008

Oftentimes, all the talk about daring forgets that the pen (or our high-tech stand-ins for the pen) can be pretty daring in itself. We haven’t done much linking to the many reviews of The Daring Book for Girls. I thought I’d call attention to one review, by blogger Deborah Siegel, aka Girl with Pen, because in many ways, she got it right, and because we’re fans of hers. It was Debbie, after all, who had introduced me to another author, Courtney Martin, the twenty-something wonder-girl who wrote last year’s Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters: The New Normalcy of Hating Your Body.

As it happened, I read Perfect Girls just before we began the whirlwind writing of The Daring Book for Girls. Courtney’s candid descriptions of teenagers and young women wasting so much precious brain-power on their next abbreviated meal and extended exercise session are haunting. Courtney describes girls as young as nine who diet, already hating their bodies, and trying to make themselves less than what they are. Her writing formed the backdrop to what we hoped to accomplish with Daring. As we wrote, Andi and I looked at our own daughters’ lives. We dreamt of a girlhood filled with fun, a girlhood that lasts a great deal longer than girlhood lasts today, and a girlhood more innocent, more interesting, and less toxic.

We hope that in the future, daring girls will be so busy running around, learning a sport, exploring the woods, running an electricity experiment, firing up the power tools, and/or curling up with a good book (perhaps, even, as a cover for an important spy mission) that she won’t even be thinking about whether she’s too large, not pretty enough, doesn’t have the right cellphone, or is just not cool enough for the hip crowd.

Instead, she’ll have a girlhood better than any generation of girls before her. She will have become interesting to herself. She’ll feel confident because she knows many things and has skills, so she can make new things and fix things that have broke. She will feel strong in body, and beautiful from the inside out. She’ll know that the world is a big place, and she has a still-to-be-discovered place in it.

And that, friends, will be a great deal better for all girls (and for the boys who come along) than things the way they are now.

That’s our simple but brobdingnagian* dream. Pass it on. Go Daring Girls!

* See “Words to Impress,” pages 187-189 in The Daring Book for Girls:
Brobdingnagian (brob-ding-NAG-ee-uhn). Gigantic, enormous, tremendous. Lydia made constant use of her brobdingnagian vocabulary.

February 18: Daring Book for Girls Debuts in London

Posted by Miriam on February 8th, 2008

…and in fact, in bookstores everywhere in the United Kingdom.

My copy of the British version arrived yesterday. I’m enjoying reading the new chapters, handily written by our British editor, Clare Hey. There are great new chapters on Women Who Changed the World (Indira Gandhi, Jane Goodall, Marie Stopes, the Suffrage Movement, Ann Frank and Mary Wollstonecraft). One chapter shows how to repair your bicycle tire if you’re out cycling and the tire blows–this is a good skill to have, certainly. I’m enjoying a chapter on small islands in and around the British Isle that daring girls might like to explore.

Instead of American sports like basketball and softball (yes, fellow Americans, these are American sports!), the British Daring Book for Girls explains the Rules of the Game for field hockey and for lacrosse, and for something called rounders, which I’m excited to learn about. Since netball was a surprise for me to learn about when we wrote the original Daring Book for Girls, it was neat to see it upfront in the British book, not tucked away behind basketball.

For some netball–in the United States, no less–take a look at these videos, one of the American Pacific Coast Netball League and also, by way of youtube magic, some British playing.

All in all, it’s great to see the Daring Girl credo spread to the United Kingdom:

Enjoy yourself.
Explore new things.
Lead an interesting life.

Did You Know…

Posted by Miriam on February 8th, 2008

Forgotten how to get yourself up in a tree? Well, it’s easy with low branches, of course, but if the branches start high, you need to think of your body as a diagonal plane. Don’t try and pull yourself up vertically; that’s defying gravity! Wrap your arms around the trunk. Sturdily push your legs into the trunk as you wrap them around the trunk, and push yourself out diagonally, so your body weight pushes into the tree. That’s the concept and the trick: make the physics of the diagonal to work for you. From there, keep reaching, moving your arms up, moving your legs up to meet them. Soon you’ll be hidden in the branches, ready to spy, read, or dream.