"The American Boy's Handy Book," by Daniel Carter Beard (The Derrydale Press, 391 pages, $11.95).
At first glance, this republication of a more than 100-year-old book is simply an artifact of immense nostalgic charm. Daniel Carter Beard, in the late 1800s, was an indomitable enthusiast - first national commissioner of the Boy Scouts of America, president of the Campfire Girls, the precursor of the Girl Scouts, founder of the Sons of Daniel Boone, and more, more, more. The Handy Book was then -- and now again is -- a brim-full collection of guidance on an immensity of subjects, ranging from knot-tying to boat-making, to outdoor survival without appropriate gear. Sure, there have been developments and discoveries since, of equipment and techniques. But it's astonishing how up to date much of the splendid stuff is. And even the superceded stuff is fascinating. Delightful. Not just for boys.