Watch This Space: Designing, Defending and Sharing Public Spaces

Hadley Dyer, Author, Marc Ngui, Illustrator , illus. by Marc Ngui. Kids Can $18.95 (80p) ISBN 978-1-55453-293-3

Using informal language to make a complex subject accessible, Dyer defines public spaces as belonging “to everyone and to no one in particular,” as well as “gathering spaces.... where we have chance encounters with neighbors and strangers.” Dyer explores their history and function, laws governing them (“How much is too much when it comes to public displays of affection?”), social networking, use of public spaces (such as skateboarding and protesting), transportation, and public art. Also included are descriptions of successful public space design and tips for readers interested in participating in public space initiatives. Dyer's belief in the value of public spaces is evident, and several statements may challenge how readers think about community, graffiti, and homelessness (“Panhandling laws.... choose the majority's right to not be disturbed over a minority's right to find a way to survive”). Ngui's sketchlike ink drawings suggest the energy and diversity of city life. Despite some missteps (including an unfortunate error regarding the title of Jane Jacobs's The Death and Life of Great American Cities ), Dyer's book should help readers understand—and feel ownership of—public spaces. Ages 10–14. (Mar.)

Reviewed on: 03/08/2010
Release date: 03/01/2010
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