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Children's Nonfiction Other

Watch This Space

Designing, Defending and Sharing Public Spaces

by (author) Hadley Dyer

illustrated by Marc Ngui

Kids Can Press
Initial publish date
Mar 2010
Other, General, Architecture
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Mar 2010
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Jan 2013
    List Price

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Where to buy it

Out of print

This edition is not currently available in bookstores. Check your local library or search for used copies at Abebooks.

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 10 to 14
  • Grade: 5 to 9


This unique and timely book introduces youth to what public space is, why it is important and how best to use it. It also underscores the need to create, preserve and protect public space. Readers will learn what makes successful public spaces work, the ins and outs of sharing and designing them, the issues surrounding teenagers in public spaces and much more.

Watch This Space answers the question, Why is public space important? It's important because this space belongs to all of us.

About the authors

HADLEY DYER was born in the Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia,and now lives in Toronto. She has been active in the children’s book scene formany years as a reviewer, publicist, editor and librarian for the CanadianChildren’s Book Centre. She is currently the children’s editor at JamesLorimer & Co., and writes for such magazines as Canadian Family, OWLand Toronto Life

Hadley Dyer's profile page

Marc Ngui caught the book-making bug at seven years old and has been writing, drawing and making zines and comics ever since. Marc has traveled around the world and his last permanent place of residence was Toronto. He is the illustrator of Watch This Space.

Marc Ngui's profile page


  • Winner, Best Books for Kids & Teens, Canadian Children's Book Centre
  • Winner, Best Children's Books of the Year, Bank Street Children's Book Committee
  • Winner, White Raven Award, International Youth Library
  • Short-listed, Red Maple Award, Ontario Library Association
  • Winner, Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People, National Council for the Social Studies and the Children's Book Council
  • Short-listed, Norma Fleck Award , Canadian Children's Book Centre

Editorial Reviews

... the book's straightforward examination may empower them to take positive action.

Kirkus Reviews

All too often, we forget that the most inspired cities are the ones which attract all people, especially young people, out of their homes and into the streets, plazas and parks. Watch this Space compresses all kinds of intelligence from academia into a first-rate, enticing book for teens about why public space matters. Readers are introduced to some of the world's most meaningful public spaces, from the Ganges River to Federation Square in Melbourne, Australia to a reinvented water tower in Soweto, South Africa. This is a book that equips teens to become advocates for beautiful public space wherever they may be in the world.

Globe & Mail

... should be required reading for all young people, their parents and anyone who lives in a city.

Toronto Star

The format of the book and the illustrations, in particular, are engaging and informative, complementing the text without overwhelming it.

School Library Journal

... a great resource for both teens and adults because it looks at and asks hard questions about what it truly means for something to be public space, and why it's increasingly important to value our public places --- whether they are streets, parks or civic buildings.

Commissioner of the NYC Department of Transportation

Librarian Reviews

Watch This Space: Designing, Defending and Sharing Public Spaces

This is an important and timely book that looks at public spaces – those places you can go to meet friends and hang out, places that are not privately owned, places where everyone is welcome. It is a very readable and well-written book that provides a good starting point for a discussion of urban design.

Author Hadley Dyer (her previous work includes the novel Johnny Kellock Died Today) divides her topic into four basic ideas – what is public space and why is it important, how do we share our public spaces, how can we design effective public spaces and what can we do if our public spaces are threatened. She uses different examples of public spaces around the world – the Ganges River, a skateboarding park in the Netherlands, the former dump in Soweto that has become a community hub and her own vibrant neighbourhood in downtown Toronto. These are places that encourage interaction and a sense of belonging among residents. Her focus is often on teenagers and how necessary it is for them to have a place away from home and school where they can have the freedom to explore their growing independence in a safe environment.

She concludes with some great examples of people who have worked to protect their public spaces. There is the student who has worked to get advertisements out of his school, a librarian who works with a youth advisory group, and a young man who talks about hosting fundraisers. It’s a great book from start to finish that opens our eyes to the importance of public space in building sustainable communities

Source: The Canadian Children's Bookcentre. Spring 2010. Vol.33 No.2.

Watch This Space: Designing, Defending and Sharing Public Spaces

This groundbreaking book examines public space — what it is, why it’s important and how to protect and expand it. How kids around the world have helped to create, design, share and protect public space is also discussed. It is written so that kids can relate to it and includes lots of interesting sidebars that grab one’s attention. An excellent resource for geography teachers and students.

Source: The Canadian Children’s Book Centre. Best Books for Kids & Teens. 2011.

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