Book Review: Watch This Space

19 Sep

Humans need public spaces.  Teenagers need public spaces most of all.  When we realize this fact, how do we maintain and defend the public spaces in existence?  What does it take for everyone to understand the value that we gain from them?  This is the exact issue that author Hadley Dyer tackles in the nonfiction young adult book, “Watch This Space: Designing, Defending and Sharing Public Spaces.”  Complemented with age-appropriate and eye-catching illustrations done by Marc Ngui, this book exceeded the expectations set by a geographer such as myself.

That’s right, I am actually a geographer.  Not by trade or profession, only by the piece of paper stating I have a Bachelor of Arts in Geography.  And because of that piece of paper, I am standing up today and saying that this book is incredible, fabulous and much-needed.  In fact, it is so spectacular, it has caused me to create a new rating system here at The Literary Wife.  But more about that later.  First, let me tell you a little more about the book.

The book is broken up into four sections:  What is public space?; Sharing public spaces; Designing public spaces; Fighting for public space.  Each section contains shorter sections within the topic, along with “Sample Spaces,” examples from around the world of great public spaces.  The language and organization, in my opinion, are perfectly fit for teenagers to be able to follow, understand and appreciate.  Here are a few of my favorite parts of the book:

  • Easy-to-read map of examples of public spaces and non-public spaces
  • Author’s experience living in an urban area with lots of people and great shared space
  • Instances throughout history in which people fought for their right to public space
  • Photo of an empty, potentially-public space where the reader can design their own public space, complete with icons of benches, bike racks, gardens and lampposts

In all seriousness, we need to give teenagers a voice when it comes to how we use our land and space.  Sociologists and geographers worldwide would agree that the way we use space across place affects the way we live our lives and how we interact with each other.  Encourage teens to check out this book (and it wouldn’t be so bad to check it out if you’re an adult, too)!

Now, on to my new rating system.  To be honest, I’m not a fan of rating books that I read.  I find it extremely helpful when other reviewers and friends rate books on a scale they have created, but it’s just not my cup of tea.  However, I feel like I should have some image or title to give books that just absolutely rock my world.  As the name of my blog is The Literary Wife, I have decided to use a diamond ring.  Not that that’s the image of a wife, but it was the outward symbol of my commitment to my husband, and it will now be the symbol of my commitment to loving a specific book.  Look for the Diamond Ring Award from now on here at The Literary Wife.

Photo courtesy of Anne Dinsdale Photography

Watch This Space

by Hadley Dyer

Published by Kids Can Press

March 2010


2 responses to “Book Review: Watch This Space

  1. Susan Smith

    September 20, 2010 at 8:25 am

    This book sounds exactly like my cup of tea too! Will have to go and search for a copy…I don’t have piece of paper saying I am a geographer but I do have one that says something about public administration, and my actual coursework was in urban and public affairs…I think books like these are important because they expose young people to ideas that they don’t really hear much about otherwise. Makes me long for a beefed up social studies curriculum…


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