I just bought The Dangerous Book for Boys the other day when at Toys R Us with a friend. Now 95% of that store is filled with plastic, and I am seriously considering boycotting the store because of this. That said, I was there, saw the book, and bought it. It may well be the last purchase I make there.
The book is an old fashioned one, with a canvas type binding and simple print on the cover. There is no dust cover, and no plastic. The book itself is a fascinating collection of all the stuff a young boy (or tomboy) may wonder about. How to tie knots, pirate flags, nautical flags, how to build a bow and arrow, insect identification, how to build a paper airplane or boat, how to build a tree fort, and other fascinating things. Also added are some poems, stories, history, and grammar lessons. The authors, Conn and Hal Iggulden, wrote they wanted a book that contained everything they wish they knew when they were younger.
I like the book for several reasons. It encourages kids to get outside and play, and use their imaginations. It shows kids how to play without the latest Bionicle, TV or hand held Gameboy. To me, a child who loved to be outdoors is a child who will use less plastic and who will care about the environment.
The book also allows that in general, boys will like certain things, and that is completely acceptable. It does not try to pretend boys and girls are interchangeable. It also does not make a statement that boys must conform to any rigid roles in order to be real boys. It is a great middle ground, and a middle ground is a rare place to be.
I think this is a great gift idea for any boy on your list.