Several months ago, a great book series entitled All Things Girl: Friends, Boys, and Getting Along came to my attention. Aimed at “tweenage” girls, the books tackle such sometimes-tough subjects as puberty, modesty, relationships, and simply just the joy of being a girl! As the mom of two teenage sons, I found myself wishing for a similar resource for young men. Our sons face popular cultural messages every day that fly in the face of the values and morals we hope to instill in them as they journey to manhood.
Apparently, I wasn’t alone in my wishes. The outcry for All Things Guy: A Guide to Becoming a Man that Matters was so great that the authors simply couldn’t avoid putting out a resource for boys. The book formula is slightly different this time around, with all of the content compiled into one longer book rather than the series approach that is so appealing to young girls. All Things Guy: A Guide to Becoming a Man that Matters is chock full of great content presented in a fashion that will appeals to boys. Mixed in with the messages on dignity, virtues, and becoming a “Man that Matters” are mazes, puzzles, games and activities that drive home the authors’ points. I particularly enjoyed the “Media and Men that Matter” and “Know Your History” chapters. The book is aimed at readers ages nine through 13, but could be read to younger boys under adult supervision and will also be enjoyed by older boys due to the depth of the content included.
I’m pleased to give All Things Guy: A Guide to Becoming a Man that Matters my highest recommendation and to share the following interview with authors Teresa Tomeo, Molly Miller, Monica Cops and Cheryl Dickow.
Q: How does a team effort like your collaboration among four talented authors get off the ground and logistically how did the book come together?
Cheryl Dickow: If you think about it, how does that happen?! Four women, two states! So, clearly the Holy Spirit has been a very large part of what we have done. That and, I believe, our passion for getting the message of Truth to the next generation. We’ve prayed, conference called many times, emailed endlessly, and prayed some more.
The process has made us all quite close as we’ve worked together and been forced to put all egos aside to serve God. We’ve often said it is amazing the way each of us has brought a unique talent and necessary piece to the projects. Monica has a degree in graphic design and has made our gorgeous covers. She and Molly also run the non-profit apostolate Runway to Reality and have given great theological insights to the books. Teresa is the media expert with almost three decades of secular media experience and has provided a real sense of what is “out there” that our kids need to be made aware of. Molly’s insights into fashion and her ability to speak to kids is uncanny. Me — I’ve pulled it all together, edited, formatted, and written from my own areas of expertise.
Interestingly, the boys’ book was not originally even on our radar but as the “All Things Girl” book series took on a life of its own we were getting bombarded with requests for something for the boys. At first we just nodded and thanked the people making the request but as the requests became more and more consistent we realized it was a need that we were being asked to fill and that we ought to answer.
We spent a lot of time discerning each step and, as I’ve shared, it took awhile to get All Things Guy off the ground. You see that All Things Guy is just one large book versus the girls’ series, which is a number of books. We really wanted this to be “right” and so spent a lot of time putting it off. I guess in the beginning we were being a bit like Jonah!
Q: Please briefly describe All Things Guy for our readers who may not have read the book yet.
Molly Miller: I just love how this book turned out, all praise be to God! Like Cheryl mentioned earlier it was a project we dragged our feet on because we are women and worried that we wouldn’t have the male point of view. However the Holy Spirit prevailed and showed us that among the four of us, we have nine sons which made us plenty qualified to speak to boys. This book is what we as mothers want our sons to know and live and we pass this on to others. You will find that it speaks to boys on their level yet does not compromise the Truth. Some things in the book are funny and creative; other subjects are more serious. We had a chance to visit with Dr. Ray Guarendi at a conference. (He endorsed the book in print!) He told Monica and me that he felt like a wimp after reading the book because we had covered so much information for boys. Wow, that coming from Dr. Ray is truly a compliment! Here are some of the things we discuss in All Things Guy: dignity of the person, relationships (family, friends, bullies, girls), virtues, vocations, puberty, the importance of knowing history, a prayer plan and examples of strong Catholic men today. Mixed with puzzles, brainteasers, activities and great guy recipes, we feel we hit on many things in a guy’s life.
Q: As a fan of your All Things Girl series, I’d like to know how the compiling of this book and the subject matter addressed differed from the books you’ve done for girls.
Monica Cops: We knew from the beginning that All Things Guy was going to be an all-in-one book. There are two core principles in all our books (both for girls and boys) from which all the other subjects stem. These principles are: You are a child of God, this is your highest dignity; and, the purpose of your life is to know, love and serve God in this life in order to be happy with Him forever in the next. Since boys and girls are so different, it was important in All Things Guy to write about things that pertained to boys. For instance, in the virtues section, we wrote about the virtues of courage, self-control, sportsmanship, responsibility and patriotism, very important virtues for boys growing up. We looked for a saint figure with which the boys could relate: Saint Joseph, who lived a very ordinary life and is Patron of the Universal Church, and also Blessed Miguel Pro, whose story boys love. The section on body care addresses puberty changes in boys, skin care, shaving and a list of “Do it for Mom” things. Sprinkled throughout the book are mazes, stories, and fun things such as how to make a bow and arrow, chivalry and coat of arms.
Q: What prompted you to become involved in the All Things Guy project and why is this book so greatly needed in today’s society?
Teresa Tomeo: The book was actually a direct response from parents. I never thought about a book for boys; being a woman I tend to think more along the lines of women’s issues. But so many Moms and Dads said, “You know our boys are really under a lot of peer pressure and cultural pressures as well. When are you going to do something for them?” So that’s when we got together and made the decision. It really was a direct result of readers’ feedback.
Q: As a mother of sons, what type of message are you trying to send to boys with All Things Guy? What do your sons think of the book?
Monica Cops: As a mother of four sons, my message to all boys is, “Hey, you are here for a reason! God loves you so much and has awesome plans for you!” We encourage boys to become a Man that Matters, to be not afraid and make a difference in the world. We are bombarded by so much immorality and anti-Christian influences, that boys need to be given the tools to stand up for the Truth and go against the grain. The tools we offer in All Things Guy are Basic Combat Training, which is a prayer plan designed specifically for boys, a whole chapter on the media and how it interferes with a boy’s plans for the future, practical ideas on how to grow in different virtues, a whole chapter on family, relationships and how to get along, and a chapter on vocations and the importance of praying about your vocation from a young age. In a few words, our message for boys is: You can Become a Man that Matters! You can transform the world!
Our boys (ages 10, 13, 15 and 16) were teasing me when they found out that four women were writing a book for boys. But once the book was done, they were impressed. Even though All Things Guy is geared towards boys ages 9-13, our older boys were interested in the Know your History and Strong Catholic Men Today chapters. Our 10-year-old son, who is not a big reader at all, enjoyed reading the stories and the Boys in the Kitchen chapter. The rest of the book we read together and brought up a good opportunity to talk about things.
All four boys — and my husband too — got a kick out of the Do it for Mom list on page 116. It made them realize — in a casual way — what is important for me!
Q: How did you select the three “Strong Catholic Men of Today” featured in the book and what can young men learn from their examples?
Teresa Tomeo: Molly, Monica, and Cheryl had more involvement in choosing the “Strong Catholic Men of Today”. However, as in all of our books the men and women we choose to highlight must be good Christian role models who are living out their faith in ways that make a difference. This book in particular is about encouraging men to be a light in the darkness. I was very proud of the men they chose as I think they are great examples of people who are not afraid to speak the truth in love. Young people, both boys and girls, need strong role models to emulate and I believe we provided those in both All Things Girl and All Things Guy .
Q: What is your favorite section of the book and what are you hearing from families who’ve shared the book with their children?
Molly Miller: It’s really hard for me to say what is my favorite part. Being a mother, I have to say the section on family and especially on Mom has to rank at the top. When I was writing the part on having good manners, (which I have attempted to teach my sons since birth), I listed all the aggravating and less than nice behaviors that my sons portray and then sent them to Monica to proof. She answered immediately in an email, “You just described my boys.” Now, the word is out that we have the same struggles as all mothers! I am sure Lisa could add a few things too with her experience raising boys! The vocation section is also a favorite part because boys do not get the encouragement they need these days to truly discern what God wants from them and that the priesthood should be considered by all young men. The media chapter that Teresa did is also a huge favorite because she tells it like it is, straight to the boys and they hear the truth about the different areas of the media and it validates what parents are trying to tell their boys. I love the way Cheryl put together all of the ideas and graphics. How do you pick one favorite thing? I just can’t! But those are on the top of my list.
One day I gave All Things Guy to a friend for her 13-year-old son. This family has been away from the Church and I wasn’t quite sure how they would like the book. The very next day her son called to tell me that he loved the book and that he had read the entire thing in one night. He specifically mentioned that his favorite part was about chivalry and being a gentleman. My own sons liked the stories and the mazes. Little do they know that they are all meant to teach a lesson!
Cheryl Dickow: My hopes and dreams for these books is that they contribute to the solid Catholic teachings of our next generation. We all must consider ways to counteract the culture of death that prevails and the only way truly to do that is to steep the next generation in the truths and teachings of the Church. Each book — whether in the All Things Girl series or in All Things Guy — does just that in a fun, honest, exciting way.
We’ve just had a request from a publisher in Croatia for the foreign rights so that the books can be translated into Croatian. I pray that we get these requests from many other countries and that these books, truly meant to serve God, are taken to the ends of the earth!
Q: Please share any additional thoughts or comments on All Things Guy that you would like to express to our readers.
Cheryl Dickow: I would encourage anyone who is looking for new, fun, and faithful ways to impart the teachings of the Catholic Church to family and friends to make a visit to www.BezalelBooks.com and not waste another precious minute!
All Things Girl: Truth for Teens is a book intended for 13-17 year old Catholic girls and is also available at www.BezalelBooks.com.