Academic journal article American Journal of Play

KaBOOM!: How One Man Built a Movement to Save Play

Academic journal article American Journal of Play

KaBOOM!: How One Man Built a Movement to Save Play

Article excerpt

KaBOOM!: How One Man Built a Movement to Save Play Darell Hammond New York: Rodale, Inc., 2011. Contents, end notes, index, illustrations. 286 pp. $24.99 cloth. ISBN: 9781605290751

Free play is a child's passion, and this book reaffirms that our society has not lost complete sight of this important resource in a child's life. A playground remains an important feature of the landscape, helping keep play front and center in the public eye. This autobiography by Darell Hammond, founder of the nonprofit, playground- building organization KaBOOM!, provides insight and inspiration to those working at a smaller, grass-roots level in playground design and research.

Hammond provides an excellent historical narrative outlining the beginnings and the ongoing success of KaBOOM!. He starts with his unique childhood at Mooseheart, a privately funded residential child-care facility in Illinois, and continues the story to the current day. The book covers the trials and tribulations of a start-up nonprofit and the growing pains that come as it expands and gains success. He communicates the advancement of KaBOOM! by chronologically recounting some of the numerous projects the group has completed and the inspirational people he has encountered along the way. Hammond shares his varied experiences with first ladies, a vice president, and the individual community activists associated with each of the projects KaBOOM! has completed.

Hammond's book focuses on the business aspects of his career, and this limits its usefulness for play researchers. Throughout the book, he highlights innumerable profound moments I wish he had explored in greater depth. He accords the projects he identifies fairly equal amounts of the reader's time, which dilutes their individual significance. A deeper examination of fewer projects could have made this as an exceptional resource of case studies. Such an approach could also have provided additional insight into the constraints and opportunities of community participation and into the impact these projects have on building community capacity. …

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