Thursday, November 20, 2008

A Salmagundi for Girls

It just occurred to me how much amusement adolescent boys in the Commonwealth nations must get when they hear about the troubles at Fannie Mae. Let's just say that fanny has a rather different meaning in other parts of the English-speaking world than here in North America, where it's a cutesy term for buttocks. Of course, Commonwealth adolescents probably don't pay all that much attention to U.S. financial news, but still. Fannie Mae has been so much in the news that word of this previously little-known entity must have filtered through.

Lilly got two main presents for her 11th birthday: some potato shoes and The Daring Book for Girls. "Potato shoes" is the elementary-school nickname, and for all I know the wider-world nickname, for these shoes. I've forgotten the actual brand name. They're faux-fur lined slippers with light-brown suede uppers. They do have a potatoish look, except for the faux-fur. She asked for them specifically, and we found them at a large retail chain.

As for the The Daring Book for Girls, it's a salmagundi for young girls, patterned after The Dangerous Book for Boys. Contents include the practical -- "Knots and Stitches," "How to Change a Tire," and "Make Your Own Paper" -- and the abstract: "Words to Impress," "What is the Bill of Rights?" and "Greek and Latin Root Words." There are bits of geography (but not that many maps), history, science, art, literature, sports and other odds and ends ("How to Tie a Sari," "Slumber Party Games," "How to be a Spy.")

Some content is girl-empowerment-specific, such as the series on "Queens of the Ancient World," which covers Artemisia of Halicarnassus, Salome, Cleopatra, Boudica and Zenobia. Joan of Arc, Abigail Adams and female explorers, pirates, spies and "Daring Spanish Girls" also receive their own treatments.

She's pleased with both gifts. "I really like this kind of book," she said, and had no idea how much I enjoyed hearing that.

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