While we ordered this book as a present for a certain young man we know whose birthday is coming soon, we will certainly be adding it to our own library as well.
The first thing I noticed was the beautiful cover. Simple. Elegant. Bright red with bold black and gold type. A bold design paired with the perfect title: an irresistible lure for even the most stubborn non-reader. What red-blooded boy could resist? The back isn’t covered with silly publicity blurbs, just two simple statements: “Recapture Sunday afternoons and long summer days. The perfect book for every boy from eight to eighty.”
There’s no dust jacket here. Why bother? It would only be torn or lost. The cover is sturdy, cloth over cardboard. The book has a nice heft too. Feels about the weight of a good junior high textbook. Did I mention the marbled end papers? (There’s a whole chapter on how to make marbled paper.)
If your eyes don’t light up as you flip through the pages of this book, then you never were a child. The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World nestle between instructions for The Greatest Paper Airplane in the World and Five Knots Every Boy Should Know. Here are famous battles, extraordinary stories, snippets of Shakespeare and Latin catchphrases, marbles and treehouses, pirate flags and skipping stones, first aid and Navaho code talking, instructions for making secret inks and fireproof cloth, tanning skins and dog tricks. You can learn rules of poker, chess, rugby, marbles and the English language. Understand longitude and latitude, star maps and wrapping a package in brown paper and string. Really, I want to list the entire table of contents because it is all just so cool. Did I mention the Seven Poems Every Boy Should Know?
It’s eclectic, exciting, the perfect thing for a rainy day, a sunny day, a clear night or a long car trip. You’ll want to order a dozen copies, give one to every boy you know and keep a copy for yourself. No matter how old or young you are.
When you’re a man, you realize that everything changes, but when you’re a boy, you know different. The camp you made today will be there forever. You want to learn coin tricks and how to play poker because you never know when the skills will come in handy. You want to be self-sufficient adn find your way by the stars. Perhaps for those who come after us, you want to reach them. Well, why not? Why not?
from the introduction, “I Didn’t Have This Book When I Was a Boy”.