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Book Reviews

32 Third Graders and One Class Bunny [The Parent Diaries]

Book review by Hope Katz Gibbs
Book by Phillip Done
Winner of the Schwab Foundation Distinguished Teaching Award

Every now and then a book comes along that makes you laugh until you cry. Such is the case with this first tome by veteran third grade teacher Phillip Done.

He weaves a tale that’s so engaging you’ll either be rolling on the floor in hysterics – or be so touched that a tear will suddenly appear in your eye. Either way, this 288-pager is a something you’ll likely want to share with every teacher, parent, and third grader you know.

“After my first week of teaching, I knew I had to write this book,” Done explains from his home in Northern California. “But after a day of working as a third grade teacher, I had absolutely no creativity left in me. So for years the book just lived in my head.”

Then about two years ago, Done had the opportunity to teach in Eastern Europe. He learned something interesting while abroad: He didn’t have to teach his class alone. While one of the other teachers was working with the students, Done found time to write.

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BLOG: How can Manga help kids learn? [The Parent Diaries]

Part 1 of a 3-part series from the Blog of Hope Katz Gibbs
The Parent Diaries: How to help your child succeed in school — without going insane
April 9, 2008

At a Starbucks coffee shop in suburban Washington, DC educator Peter Noonan — Assistant Superintendent for Instruction in the Fairfax County Public Schools — recently sat down with world-renown author Dan Pink to talk about the future of public education.

Although Pink quickly admits he is not an educator, his previous books, “A Whole New Mind,” and “Free Agent Nation,” have struck a chord with the education community.

“We are interested in learning what Dan has to say because he seems to have a good understanding about what makes people tick,” Noonan explains. “Since our sole mission as educators is to help children realize their potential, his insight is very appealing.”

Noonan said he was particularly interested in Pink’s latest book, a graphic novel written in a popular Japanese graphic novel style manga, entitled “The Adventures of Johnny Bunko: the Last Career Guide You’ll Ever Need.”

Their conversation started with that topic.


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Kevin Maney: The Maverick and His Machine [elan magazine]

by Hope Katz Gibbs
elan magazine

Thomas Watson Sr. appeared to me in a dream,” writes Kevin Maney in the introduction to “The Maverick and His Machine,” his recently published book about the charismatic, irascible founder of IBM. “In his powerful voice, clearing his throat as usual every couple of words, he said, ‘It is your fate that you should write about me.”’ “Well, okay, maybe not,” Kevin concedes. “But a series of actual events stopped just short of a phantom visit from one of the greatest business leaders of the 20th century. At times, it seemed like some force steered me to this book, much the way an invisible hand always guided Wile E. Coyote to stand precisely under the falling anvil.” It is with such humor, a reverence for his subject and a strong sense of business history that Kevin crafted the 446-page tome that hit bookstore shelves in April 2003. Published by John Wiley & Son, The Maverick and His Machine is the USA Today technology reporter’s second book.

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Five Minds for the Future [Change)Waves / Social Technologies]

by Hope Katz Gibbs
Social Technologies
Change)Waves newsletter
Premier Issue / Fall 2007

In his latest book, “Five Minds for the Future,” psychologist Howard Gardner breaks from his usual approach of describing the operations of the brain. Instead, the author who is best known for his controversial theory of multiple intelligences focuses on the skills and understandings people will need to develop to thrive in the future. “Why the shift from description to prescription?” he asks in the introduction to his 196-page book, published by Harvard Business School Press. “In the interconnected world, in which the vast majority of human beings now live, it is not enough to state what each individual or group needs to survive on its own turf. “Further, the world of the future—with its ubiquitous search engines, robots, and other computational devices—that demand capacities that until now have been mere options. To meet this new world on its own terms, we should begin to cultivate these capacities now.”

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Publisher Mascot Books is a start-up all-star [Costco Connection]

by Hope Katz Gibbs
Costco Connection magazine, November 2007
Book Beat, page 41

BACK IN 2002, AIMEE ARYAL was a mom on a mission. She and her husband, Naren, had just taken their 2-year-old daughter, Anna, to watch their college alma mater, Virginia Tech, play a football game. On the way out of the stadium the toddler made a request: “Mommy, I want a book about the Hokie Bird.” The Hokie Bird, of course, is Virginia Tech’s mascot. And the idea of taking home a souvenir sounded like a fine idea to Aimee, who graduated from the university with an accounting degree in 1993 (Naren graduated in 1992). But once inside the campus bookstore, she realized there was no such book to be found. So on the way from Blacksburg back to their house in northern Virginia, Aimee wrote one.

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What a difference a faux makes [Costco Connection magazine]

by Hope Katz Gibbs
The Costco Connection, March 2007
Member Connection profile, page 64

WHEN ADRIENNE VAN DOOREN, a Costco member in Alexandria, Virginia, went to check out a model home a few years a she noticed some extraordinary faux painting throughout the house. But when she asked the designer who had done the work, the woman wouldn’t tell.
“It made me angry because I’m a faux painter, and it didn’t seem fair that she would not give the artist any credit,” explains van Dooren, who decided the only way to liberate faux artists was to showcase them. She also wanted to prove that, for only a little money, the average person could use faux techniques (such as crackling and aging or sponging paint) to transform a home.

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Book World: Digital Dads and Microchip Moms [The Washington Post]

Book Review by Hope Katz Gibbs
Book World / The Washington Post
Education Review

What You Should Know About Kids and Computers
By Steve Bennett
Times Books / Paperback / 187 pages / $15

I’ve long been a fan of Steve Bennett’s 1991 book, 365 TV-Free Activities. It sits dog-eared and well worn on the “good mommy” section of my bookshelf. I like it for its simplicity, its ideas (making a Bug Motel is a favorite), and its basic premise—that good parenting means extracting your kids from the grip of Barney and interacting with them. So I had high hopes for Bennett’s newest book, “The Plugged-In Parent,” and fortunately I wasn’t disappointed. The book is engaging from its first page, where Bennett introduces himself not only as a computer expert who has authored 55 books on computing, parenting, environment and business, but a parent. Bennett is one of us. Even with all his professional / technological expertise, he too grapples with the effects of the digital age on his kids.

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Book Review: Harry’s the Hottest [Crystal City magazine]

by Hope Katz Gibbs
Crystal City magazine
Fall 1999
Photo by Bognovitz

CHILDREN’S BOOK LOVERS REJOICE. HARRY Potter has arrived and is destined for a spot among the classics in children’s literature. Like Meg Murry and Charles Wallace in Madeleine L’Engle’s “A Wrinkle in Time,” Harry Potter is a quirky kid wise beyond his years. He isn’t in search of a tesseract in “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets,” the second installation of seven planned by J.K. Rowling. The 11-year-old hero is a wizard-in-training hunting for the identity of the Heir of Slytherin—an evil creature literally petrifying the students at the thousand year-old Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, which Harry attends.

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Hotshots: Author Roberta Morgan [New Miami magazine]

by Hope Katz Gibbs
New Miami magazine
Photo by Donna Victor
Design by Kevin Jolliffe

PINT-SIZED POWERHOUSE ROBERTA MORGAN may seem like an unlikely candidate to write a book about professional wrestling. But she isn’t one to pass on a challenge. In 1979, at the ripe age of 26, Morgan’s wrestling book, “The Main Event,” made the B. Dalton bestseller list after it sold 100,000 copies. Among the memorabilia she holds dear from her research is a photograph of herself in the arms of wrestling star Andre the Giant. Now 38, Morgan is something of a giant herself. “The Main Event” is just one of eight books Morgan has written. Most of her titles have focused on health topics. “The Emotional Pharmacy” dealt with drugs prescribed for mentally ill patients. “The Paris Diet” is a treatise on staying trim by eating gourmet recipes created by top chefs in Paris. She is now working on a book about the history of the Burdines department store chain. Miami-based Pickering Press will publish it later this year.

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City Beat: The Perez Family [New Miami magazine]

by Hope Katz Gibbs
New Miami magazine
August 1991
Design by Kevin Jolliffe

WHAT WOULD A HUSBAND AND wife talk about at the breakfast table if he had spent 20 years as a political prisoner in Cuba and she had spent those same 20 years selling furniture at Sears? Christine Bell first imagined that darkly comical scene in 1980, when the Mariel boatlift flooded Miami with tens of thousands of Cuban refugees. Her imaginary breakfast scene became the basis for her second novel, “The Perez Family.” The touching tale tracks the lives of Marielitos Juan Raul and Dottie Perez, refugees who struggle to define their place in Miami as free people.

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Secrets of the South [Costco Connection magazine]

by Hope Katz Gibbs
Costco Connection magazine, December 2004
Book Club, page 29

THE CHARACTERS STARTED COMING TO Edward Jones sometime in 1991. “I’d be standing on the comer waiting for a bus, or picking out some broccoli in the supermarket, and there they’d be,” says Jones. So by the time he banged out the novel a decade later, he was thrilled—and a bit relieved—to get the characters out of his head. The next goal for the author was to find a publisher.

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Picture This: Childrens books may fetch top dollars [Costco Connection magazine]

by Hope Katz Gibbs
Costco Connection magazine, September 2006
Book Beat, page 33

THOSE PICTURE BOOKS ON YOUR child’s bookshelf may be worth a small fortune, say Salt Lake City Costco members Linda and Stan Zielinski. In their newly self-published book, The Children’s Picturebook Price Guide: Finding, Assessing, & Collecting Contemporary Illustrated Books, they estimate just how much.

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Lessons in Leadership: Jonathan Alter captures essence of FDR [Costco Connection magazine]

by Hope Katz Gibbs
Costco Connection magazine, May 2006
Book Beat, page 53

WHAT TURNS A PERSON into a leader? What is the relationship between being a great personality and a great president? What enables one person to lead when others—perhaps more intelligent or experienced—to rise to the occasion?
Those are some of the questions Newsweek Senior Editor Jonathan Alter answers in his thought-provoking, highly readable new book, The Defining Moment: FDR’s Hundred Days and the Triumph of Hope.

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Bite me! The Historian brings Dracula to life [Costco Connection magazine]

by Hope Katz Gibbs
Costco Connection magazine, June 2005
Book Beat, page 39

YOU MAY WANT TO TUCK a few bulbs of garlic into your pockets when you read Elizabeth Kostova’s debut novel, The Historian. This novel about the life-and afterlife-of Vlad III of Wallachia (1431-1476-?) is wonderfully creepyespecially when read late at night. Even before its release, The Historian was predicted to be as popular as Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code. And that is what the book’s publisher, Time Elizabeth Warner’s Little, Brown, is banking on. After a heated auction last summer, Little, Brown paid Kostova $2 million to publish her 656-page book.

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A Paper Cut Above: Another masterpiece from Robert Sabuda [Costco Connection magazine]

by Hope Katz Gibbs
Costco Connection magazine, November 2004
Book Beat, page 51

IT WAS THE POP-UP ADVENTURES of Super Pickle that did it.
Illustrator Robert Sabuda, then 7, was refusing to cooperate for the dentist and, in an attempt to keep him from escaping from the office, Sabuda’s mom reached into a bin of children’s books. Into his hands she placed the first pop-up book the young man from a tiny town in rural Michigan had ever seen.
Not only did Sabuda relax enough to keep from biting the doc, but pop-up art is the style of illustration he came to master.

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Odd Girl’ Speaks Out [Costco Connection magazine]

by Hope Katz Gibbs
Costco Connection magazine, February 2004
Book Club, page 47

IT HAPPENED ON THE PLAYGROUND. A nasty girl in Rachel Simmons’ third-grade class went around to the other kids and encouraged them not to play with the 8-year-old.
“I was mortified,” say the native of suburban Maryland, who admits the experience stuck with her. Fortunately, it also empowered her to write two books on the topic of female aggression.

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A Recipe for Success: Fix-It and Forget-It Cookbook [Costco Connection magazine]

by Hope Katz Gibbs
Costco Connection magazine, June 2003
Book Beat, page 65

WHEN PHYLLIS PELLMAN GOOD AND DAWN RANCK sat down to assemble the Fix-It and Forget-It Cookbook, they had no idea it would hit the New York Times bestseller list. And the Publishers Weekly bestseller list. And the USA Today bestseller list. Ditto for the Book Sense bestseller list, which tracks sales from 350 independent bookstores across the country.
It was the only book that sold more than I million copies last year, outselling the popular Lord of the Rings movie tie-ins by two to one.

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For the Birds: Sibley Guide [Costco Connection magazine]

by Hope Katz Gibbs
The Costco Connection, November 2001
Book Beat, page 61

SINCE HE WAS 7, illustrator David Allen Sibley has been wild about birds. He spent years trekking into the wilderness to study birds with his dad, well-known Yale University ornithologist Fred Sibley. Then, in 1980, after a year of studying biology at Cornell University, he realized he wasn’t going to learn all he wanted to know about the biology of birds inside a college lab. So he traded in his textbooks for a dark blue Ford Chateau van and began traveling from woods to marsh to swamp to beach throughout the United States, studying and sketching his feathered friends in their native habitats. It was a trip that would last eight years.

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More Book Reviews Articles

"I get by with a little help from my friends," says Hope, who gives special thanks to:

• MICHAEL GIBBS, website illustration and design: www.michaelgibbs.com
• MAX KUKOY, website development: www.maxwebworks.com
• STEVE BARRETT, portrait of Hope on Bio page: www.stevebarrettphotography.com

Contact HOPE KATZ GIBBS by phone [703-346-6975] or email.