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The Young Man's Handybook: Preparing Your Son on the Homefront Review by Kris Price and Melanie Bunnett

Gail Kappenman and Martha Greene
Green Acres Publications
MarmeeDear & Co.
PO Box 425
Honea Path, South Carolina 29654

One thing that my husband insists I teach my son is the set of basic skills needed for living on his own. You see, my husband was never taught how to do laundry or how to cook for himself. The poor thing lived off of hamburgers and Ramen noodles while in college! Of course, I want to also fulfill my husband's request and complete a basic home economics course with my son, but I wasn't quite sure how I was going to do that. I mean, I could go through the same book, Treasury of Vintage Homekeeping Skills, that I'll be using with my daughter and adapt it for my male child, but I would rather not have to modify a book. I'm just lazy, I guess!

Then, once again, Martha Greene came to the rescue with her new book, co-authored with Gail Kappenman, called The Young Man's Handybook: Preparing Your Son on the Homefront. This book is geared for boys ages 8 and up and will teach them basic skills like making meals, doing the laundry, fixing things, etc. There are eight sections as follows:

  • In the Kitchen
  • The Young Gentleman (manners)
  • First Aid and Safety
  • The Young Handyman (helping around the house)
  • Let's Go to the Woodshed (working with wood)
  • Along the Garden Fence
  • The Country Boy (outdoor adventures)
  • Outgrowing the Piggybank (managing money)

The book is written to boys in a nice straightforward manner. The kitchen section contains about 50 basic recipes that the child can make at home, including main dish recipes, cookies, and breads! All men should know how to cook, even if it's just to help a little around the house. I don't expect my husband to prepare a gourmet meal after he's been at work all day, but it is nice when he helps!

In the other sections, your son will learn how to tie a tie, take care of bites and stings and other emergency situations, and how to do the laundry and help keep the home tidy. The wood-working section looks fun--from learning how to whittle wood to building a REAL log cabin (one for the kids to play in!). The gardening section includes directions on building a real split-rail fence (something I've seen my husband do since we've been married!). The Country Boy section discusses camping, fishing, knot-making, deer hunting, and gun safety. The final section discusses basic bookkeeping and saving vs. wasting money.

I am very pleased with The Young Man's Handybook. I was going to wait until the seventh or eighth grade years to go through a basic "handyman" course with my son, but after looking through this, I've decided to cover some of the basic material next year- especially the manners, laundry, and money sections. In my humble opinion, you are getting far more than your money's worth with your purchase. The book is spiral-bound so it lays flat, and the front and back covers are protected with vinyl protectors. It's a very nice book. I think that I've just found the perfect gift for all of my son's friends (and I'm sure their moms will appreciate the book instead of another toy)!

Product review by Kris Price, Assistant to the Publishers, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, July 2006

Another review...

The Young Man's HandyBook: Preparing Your Son on the Homefront

By Martha Greene and Gail Kappenman
MarmeeDear & Co.

P.O. Box 425
Honea Path, SC 29654
(864) 369-0930

"It's about time!" That was my initial thought when first discovering this new handbook designed to help round out your son's homeschooling education. This book covers many of the life skills needed as your son approaches manhood.

For any parents raised in a time, as I was, where all things educational-including life skills-were left to a school system that was inadequate, this is a great springboard to help make sure your son is better prepared for adulthood than you were. And at a cost of $19.95 for a 183-page spiral-bound book, it is a worthwhile investment in your son's future.

As the parent of two boys and two girls, I never cease to be amazed at the abundance of materials available to help me raise my daughters to care for a family and a home. On the other hand, there seem to be very few resources available to help me train my sons in life skills. Having heard this from many other parents, Mrs. Greene and Mrs. Kappenman created this book to help fill that gender gap.

The topics covered are varied and wide-ranging. There are chapters on cooking, manners, first aid, home maintenance, woodworking, gardening, outdoor adventures, and even money management. As you are preparing your sons to be the primary financial providers for their families in the future, these are skills that they should learn in order to be productive members of society.

While the information taught is, for the most part, applicable to both genders, this book is definitely written to a male perspective. This should make it more appealing to most preteen and teenage boys than materials geared toward their sisters. Some of the topics covered may not pique the interest of most girls, but many boys would consider those topics essential to know.

The chapter on cooking covers basics (types of cooking tools needed, cooking terms) as well as more in-depth topics (e.g., recipes in every category). After working his way through this chapter, your son should be ready to step in and help prepare almost any meal needed for his family.

The chapter on manners is less in-depth but nonetheless gives a thorough overview of what a well-behaved young man needs to know. A nice bonus to this section is the page detailing how to tie a tie. This isn't always easy to learn and is often a skill parents overlook when raising their sons.

First aid covers not only safety rules and tips but also home remedies and treatments for serious and not-so-serious ailments. The home maintenance chapter covers basic laundry, sewing, and cleaning along with standard home maintenance skills. The remaining chapters also are a good mixture of very simple, basic information and more in-depth components.

One thing I would like to see added to this volume is an appendix of resources for more information on each topic. When my son explores woodworking, for example, where might I go to gather more information for him? Or better yet, where might I direct him to look on his own? A list of books, websites, or organizations would allow me to carry what he learns from this handbook further.

Overall, I believe this is a tremendous resource for homeschooling parents of sons. I plan to use it as a self-directed study guide for my teenage son and as a parent/child activity with my younger son. I believe they will both gain self-confidence and valuable skills that can be used both now and in their future.

Product review by Melanie Bunnett, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, September 2006