My colleague and friend Kim Sabo Fores is a Vygotskian developmental psychologist, researcher and evaluator who is one of the pioneers of the young field known as Youth Participatory Evaluation (YPE). Just about a year ago I hosted a book launch to celebrate the publication of her Youth Participatory Evaluation: Strategies for Engaging Young People (Jossey-Bass).
A review of the book appeared in the latest issue of the Journal of Evaluation. It was lovely and favorable. The thing that struck me, though, and what I wanted to share, is that the reviewer (Krystin Martens)I was unusually honest in sharing with readers the process she went through in reading the book for review. Near the end of the review, she says: “Sabo is not attempting to show how to use youth participation as a component within a traditional evaluation to round out the evidence of the merit of a program, she is instead using evaluation as a tool to promote youth participation. It came to me that the title of the book is very telling; evaluation is not the first word, it follows behind youth and participation, and that is precisely where it belongs for her approach—third—and followed by ‘Strategies for Engaging Young People.’ I believe that Sabo introduced this point clearly, it is just that it took me a while to switch gears from a traditional evaluation standpoint (e.g., what is the merit,worth,and/or significance of the evaluand?) to exploring creative ways that youth can be engaged to participate in and drive their own growth and change through the evaluation process.”
Good reviews are hard to write. Too often, they turn out to be about a book the author wishes the author wrote rather than the one s/he actually did write. Not this time though.