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Monday, November 12, 2007

Reality Blogivision (Children Mentioned)

With television writers on strike and new episodes of scripted shows indefinitely on hiatus, we bring you the next wave of entertainment to fill the gaping hole left by Grey's Anatomy and The Daily Show: reality blogivision. Okay, so this post isn't even remotely as cool as my initial vision of reality blogivision. My intention was to film this, but since I didn't charge the video camera, you instead get to follow along with this summary...

In a world of gender stereotypes and biases, we came together to not only pit two children against one another but two books. The Dangerous Book for Boys by Conn and Hal Iggulden, last year's best seller, and The Daring Book for Girls by Andrea Buchanan and Miriam Peskowitz, already number 4 on the New York Times Best Seller list. An amazing accomplishment from two amazing women which I would say anyway even if I didn't work for Mother Talk, the company they founded.

On the boys' team were Josh and the Wolvog, a rabid boy of a boy. A lover of cars, cell phones, and computers who taught me how to leave myself a voice memo on the cell phone at age two. A child who can already name every car brand at age three including the Suburu, Mercury, and Buick--even though no one we know owns any of these car brands.

On the girls' team were me and the ChickieNob, a sassy girl of a girl. A lover of all things orange, pretending to have the hiccups, and corned beef sandwiches. She speaks incessantly about getting married and becoming a princess. She has a constant need to know when I'll allow her to wear nail polish. She knows every street sign including "stay to the right of the median." A strong swimmer (who also tries to convince people that she is a mermaid), she is also a fast runner and skilled soccer player.

Two kids, same age, same parents, same influences, yet one became a car-and-electronics nut and the other would rather dance than touch a keyboard. Hmmm...

The first challenge came from The Daring Book for Girls. Each team attempted the whistle from page 25. Unfortunately, despite the initial promise shown when the ChickieNob got her pinkies in the correct position, all four contestants failed miserably. There was a lot of spitting, but not so much as a tweet. Yet the girls kicked ass in the tying-a-double-loop-while-having-a-child-distract-you-in-your-lap competition. Despite my failure last year when I tried to truss a whole chicken, I wrapped two successful loop knots while Josh stared at the instructions with drool practically falling from his open lips.

We ran into some trouble with the karate moves both due to a lack of coordination and the fact that the Wolvog refused to set down his cell phones in order to attempt some air punches. At the end of round one, the girls were in the lead.

We kicked off round two with an attempt at juggling. The boys won more points namely because Josh was able to keep the cotton balls in the air for a second longer than me. Since the activities in the Dangerous Boys book are entirely focused on kids above the age of six (whereas the Daring Girls book has a greater range from preschoolers to twelve-year-olds and beyond), we were forced to train our children as dogs. There was mostly a tie in this competition, though the Wolvog was slightly more skilled with the command of "attack" and "roll over." Neither were able to complete the "begging" command, though the ChickieNob did a nice job offering out her paw.

We closed off the competition by running down the book list in the back of the book. 34 books--all proper reads for dangerous boys--yet I pulled ahead with 18 books read versus Josh's paltry 16. Another win for the girls.

Two ties, a draw, one boy win, and two girl wins later and the girls walked away with the golden trophy of all-around daring and dangerousness.

There has been a general rolling of eyes by reviewers when it comes to these books despite the enormous success in the bookstore. Yet I think there's a place for them on every bookshelf--not just on the nursery room book pile, but on every adult's bookshelf as well. Though I didn't find the boys book particularly dangerous, I did find it packed with interesting information.

On the other hand, I did think the girls book was daring, mostly because it presented the challenge of straying from the path your friends may be walking in order to forge your own. It doesn't matter if the rest of the world has been Libby Lued and iPodized. The Daring Book for Girls dares girls to strive for excellence, take a risk, stand up for herself--all the things the two authors have done by leaving the well-beaten path of job security in order to write their own books, start their own business, and write their own magazine. I think the fact that the authors are walking the walk makes a huge difference.

And beyond that, having the rules to Four Square, Chinese jump rope, and Tag in one place is priceless.

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