Life With Boys and Ballantyne

We have a handful of boys running around here and they always amaze me with their unique boyness that still baffles my feminine mind.  The way they look and smell…and dress is uniquely different…at least around here.  The camo hat and pants, the pockets full of….well, junk, the million questions I don’t care about, the things they find funny and entertaining…..well, they just aren’t me.  That’s ok…that’s why I enjoy them so much.  They are full of busy, boy energy. 
We recently purchased a hardback book series written by the author R.M. Ballantyne who wrote a series of Christian adventure books for boys.  A quote from one of the books:

Boys [should be] inured from childhood to trifling risks and slight dangers of every possible description, such as tumbling into ponds and off of trees, etc., in order to strengthen their nervous system…. They ought to practice leaping off heights into deep water. They ought never to hesitate to cross a stream over a narrow unsafe plank for fear of a ducking. They ought never to decline to climb up a tree, to pull fruit merely because there is a possibility of their falling off and breaking their necks. I firmly believe that boys were intended to encounter all kinds of risks, in order to prepare them to meet and grapple with risks and dangers incident to man’s career with cool, cautious self-possession…. R.M. Ballantyne, The Gorilla Hunters

Two of my boys just finished The Gorilla Hunters and have been talking about it for days.  They each revisit parts of the book that they found thrilling and engage in animated conversation over the adventures that Ballantyne wrote about in the 1850’s.  
The only caution I would give is that these books will inspire your boys… not only in conversation….but after your 10 year old reads The Gorilla Hunters or The Pirate City or The Young Fur Traders and has just memorized a deck of survival cards….don’t be surprised if you walk in your kitchen one morning and see something like this appear on your kitchen “What’s For Supper?” board:

My daughters comment as she was starring at the kitchen board was “What is wrong with them?”  She further added, “I would never write anything like that mom…” 
The “turtle blood” had me asking “…drinking turtle blood??? Where did you get that idea???”  My 10 year old left the room and came running back with a deck of survival cards and pulled out the turtle card…promptly turning over the card he read….”Edible…if water is unavailable, you may drink turtle blood to maintain hydration until water can be found…” 
Just another, “Hey…..Mom….did you know…..” statement I can see us having at the grocery store one day.  Maybe since the turtle blood was dealt with at home, some poor elderly lady in the grocery store won’t have to worry herself sick that she passed cultists in on isle 7 and save me explaining that it was just the survival cards they were reading.


  • Renee says:

    Thanks for the book recommendation!! I have FIVE boys ages 15,13,10,almost 8 and almost 4 and thankfully(wink) 1 girl age 17. I’m always looking for good books for them to read. Especially the 13yo who doesn’t care for reading. Silly as it sounds…lol…I think I’d like those books too 😀 Hey, I’m outnumbered 5 to 1 here. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em right!?!?!

  • Candace says:

    Too funny! I’ll have to pass this post on to my friend with five boys! She’ll love it!

  • Bethany says:

    Here is the link to find out more about the new hardback books —
    They had a special on them a few weeks ago… so we picked them up on sale. You can find some of the books online if you wanted to read them online…and for free….however, Vision Forum republished them in a hardback series that is a nice addition to the library

  • sarah walston says:

    hey beth – i’ll have to look for them online – they sound like fun reading! we are doing a unit study on resourcefulness right now and are trying to read Robinson Crusoe. I tried reading the original – but it was too wordy so we are going to use an abridged version.

  • Bethany says:

    Hey… speaking of resourcefulness — we read the original Swiss Family Robinson — Wow..amazing book and boy did Disney do it a huge injustice — it is a great book—not like the movie at all. We printed it out and put it in a little folder thing— the boys loved it.
    You might look at that one too…I don’t remember it being too wordy or difficult–
    It was free to…just the paper and ink to print it on– and I can’t remember how many pages it was

  • Hannah says:

    My boys would love the resources you mentioned! What a great post!

  • Tina says:

    I just love your blog! I had so much fun with this one. I have 4 sons ages 8, 5, 3 and 5 months. They keep life interesting around here! I took my 5 year old to the doctor one time on sort of an emergency. I knew he needed medical attention and scooped him up and went straight into the doctor. He has been playing out in the dirt with his tonka trucks and other brothers. While at the doctors office I listened to a long lecture about his nails being dirty and what playing in the dirt could do to him! I just sat there speechless…wondering when we started going so downhill trying to strip masculinity from our boys!? Your post was so refreshing. I find so much joy in the way God designed boys…they will forever keep me way too busy to leave any time for self.

  • Margaret says:

    Oh my goodness, that is hilarious!
    I am seeing my 4 yo becoming more and more boy every day. Of course, he was always a boy but his inner adventurer has been latent until now.

  • sarah walston says:
    Beth – have you seen this one? I saw it at the bookstore and am going to get it for my boys for Christmas this year!

  • Sarah says:

    I am a mother of four boys…. It’s good to know that we are not the only ones that shock elderly women in the grocery store!!!!

  • Vicki says:

    I have to laugh at this post, mainly because my husband was going on like an excited little boy, about a show he’d watched on TV where a man roasted a turtle. The favorite phrase was about throwing the turtle in the fire and “when the shell splits its done. I can say for certain that this one tastes like chicken.” Silly “boys”