Reviewed by Katy Killilea
Bart King is my new hero. On the surface, his books might look like they're getting by on being similar to the ubiquitous Dangerous Book for Boys. King's pocket guides–with illustrations of paper airplanes, Chuck Taylors, and a slingshot on their covers–do cash in on that kind of scrappy retro charm. But these books are something entirely different.
These books are hilarious. And informative–if you want to know how to get the best of your nemesis or play toilet tag. What makes these special is not only that they're well-written, well-designed, and funny, but also that they present information that is actually new and actually useful (again, useful to the sorts of people who like to play toilet tag).
A few tantalizing sample tastes:
From The Pocket Guide to Mischief: "You'll need some cream cheese. First, roll the deodorant out maybe half an inch . . ."
From The Pocket Guide to Games: "Fill several balloons with water, and hang one from a tree . . ."
From The Pocket Guide to Boy Stuff: "Here are two hand-grenade designs that you can use that won't start a fire . . ."
If these don't seem gender-neutral enough, and you have a daughter who is into this kind of thing, rest assured that Bart King also has girl versions: The Big Book of Girl Stuff gracefully and barely touches on puberty, but includes plenty of pranks, code names, and hijinx for kids who like bright pink more than baseballs on the covers of their books.
Should someone you know be interested, visit the author's web site: www.bartking.net.Â It includes video clips illustrating some of the guides' proposed activities!