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Place Hacking


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About the Author

Michael J. Rosen is the acclaimed author of some three dozen books for children of all ages (and even more for grown-ups!), including The Cuckoo's Haiku and Other Poems for Birders; Our Farm: Four Seasons with Five Kids on One Famiy's Farm (which he both wrote and illustrated with some 400 photographs); A Drive in the Country; Don't Shoot!; A School for Pompey Walker; and Elijah's Angel. For over 35 years, ever since working as a counselor, water-safety instructor, and art teacher at local community centers, Michael has been engaged with young children, their parents, and teachers. As a visiting author, in-service speaker, and workshop leader, he frequently travels to schools and conferences around the nation, sharing his stories, poems, creativity, and humor. As a talented editor and illustrator, Michael has enlisted hundreds of other authors and artists to create 15 philanthropic books that aid in the fight to end childhood hunger through Share Our Strength's national efforts, or that offer care to less fortunate companion animals through The Company of Animals Fund, a granting program he began in 1990. For the last four years, working with the Ohio Children's Foundation, Michael created a early literacy activity book, particularly designed for kids who are likely to start school without knowing the alphabet: You, Me, and the ABCs: 100 Ready-for-Reading Activities for Kids and Their Favorite Grown-ups.


"This look at the controversial but endlessly fascinating pastime of urban exploring should have readers scanning their skylines, checking out dilapidated buildings, and even eyeing manhole covers in a new light. Rosen describes the three types of exploring: urbex (the clandestine investigation of off-limit spaces); urban adventure (everything from parkour to 'pro hoboing' to 'extreme ironing, ' which is exactly what it sounds like); and infiltration (sneaking into events and sites using fake credentials). The subculture has proliferated on the Net, courtesy of thousands of incredible photos of abandoned asylums, old subway tunnels, and so forth, and Rosen, with a personable and frank voice, ably transfers the thrill to print. Though cautions are littered throughout, the tone is fairly permissive and, to a certain degree, displays admiration for these explorers--often anti-authority types out to inspire others to share in their awe of hidden spaces, frequently with an eco-friendly edge. High-interest stuff that appeals to both the intellect and the adrenaline." --Booklist


"A hodgepodge of adventuring activities designed for urban settings gathered under the rubric 'hacking, ' as in the old sense of 'play[ing] a sophisticated practical joke on a community, ' though considerably more inclusive here. Place hacking, for author Rosen, comprises three categories of activities: urban exploration, urban adventure and urban infiltration. By its nature, hacking is an outlaw activity, often involving a measure of risk and some illegal acts. There is an unofficial place-hacker code of conduct and an admirable acceptance of personal responsibility for one's behavior, plus much preparation for the hairier deeds. Still, there are some seriously dangerous exploits recorded in these pages, from entering buildings that may harbor toxic wastes, unstable flooring or creatures unhappy with your visit--skunks, snakes--to scaling the outsides of skyscrapers. But there are also a host of activities that are unlikely to hospitalize or incarcerate the participant, from exploring the urban underground to parkour, a kind of nimble, freestyle run-and-leap through an urban landscape. Despite the disclaimer, 'This not intended to be a how-to guide, ' there is a segment on staging an illegal exploration--but Rosen emphasizes the pleasure of discovery and the joy of participating in a sport with style and a goal of mastery. From the cockamamie (extreme ironing) to daredevilry (rooftopping) to a fine day out (catacomb rambling), a taste of unbridled adventure for everyone." --Kirkus Reviews


"This brief but lively introduction to the joy of urban trespass is the stuff reluctant reader dreams are made of. Rosen investigates three aspects of place hacking: urban exploration, which generally involves ascending or descending into remote city locations and photo-documenting the site or the view; urban adventure, which involves a riskier degree of interaction with the surroundings, from parkour to death-defying B.A.S.E. jumping; and infiltration, an amped-up version of old-school party-crashing. Wildly varying motivations and ethical codes are discussed, and myriad color photographs are included, from the giddy extreme ironing on a rock-climbing wall, to the stunningly beautiful rooftop view of Paris' Notre Dame Cathedral. Almost as entertaining as the subject itself is the adult squirming involved in the presentation: three paragraphs of fine-print disclaimer get the ball rolling; Rosen confesses to his personal timidity in his introduction; Five Dangers of Place Hacking quickly follow ('And now, a brief word from our legal department: Don't'); and reminders of peril abound ('Climbers require ropes. Drainers need waders. . . . And B.A.S.E. jumpers needs their heads examined, plus a wingsuit or parachute'). Lest readers remain in doubt of the overall message--read about this, don't try it--a persuasive writing activity on place-hacking ethics is included, a buzzkill if ever there was one. A selective timeline of place hacking, a glossary, source notes, an index, and resources for further research (and lots of delightfully bad ideas) are also included."--The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books


"In this attractive addition, Rosen delves into the concept of place hacking, or the exploration of spaces that are off-limits. Vivid photographs throughout take readers to obscure locations: an abandoned prison in Pennsylvania, the catacombs of Paris, and the sewers of Russia. Rosen explains the subject in accessible language that will hook even reluctant readers. He acknowledges that this activity is often dangerous, even illegal (methods of 'urban infiltration' covered include bolt cutting and lock picking), and in an author's note he makes it clear that this book is not a how-to guide. However, Rosen states that the risks may be worth it for these adventurers. An appended interview with archaeologist Bradley Garrett adds a philosophical layer to the subject, as he emphasizes that the desire to explore is a deep-seated, primal urge that makes us human. Garrett touches, too, upon the ethics of place hacking: 'It's about making difficult decisions about rules: Are they there for sound reasons or for reasons that don't or no longer make sense?' VERDICT: An engaging look at an intriguing topic." School Library Journal


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