Gutman, Dan 1955-

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Gutman, Dan 1955-

PERSONAL:

Born October 19, 1955, in New York, NY; son of Sidney J. Gutman (in advertising) and Adeline Berlin (a homemaker); married Nina Wallace (an illustrator), September 25, 1983; children: Sam, Emma. Education: Rutgers University, B.A., 1977. Hobbies and other interests: Travel, history, technology, sports, pop culture, movies.

ADDRESSES:

Office—Haddonfield, NJ. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Video Review Publications, coeditor of Electronic Fun magazine, 1982-83; Carnegie Publications, founder and editor-in-chief of Video Games Player (later named Computer Games) magazine, 1983-84; freelance writer, 1984—.

MEMBER:

Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, Society for American Baseball Research.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Volunteer State Book Award, Nutmeg Children's Book Award, and Sequoyah Book Award, all 2000, Iowa Children's Choice Award and Maud Harte Lovelace Award, both 2001, and California Young Reader Medal, 2003, all for The Million Dollar Shot; California Young Reader Medal, 2001, for Honus and Me; Keystone to Reading Award, 2000, Black-eyed Susan Book Award, 2002, Massachusetts Children's Book Award, 2004, all for Jackie and Me; Arizona Young Readers Award, and Nutmeg Children's Book Award, both 2003, both for Babe and Me; Black-eyed Susan Book Award, 2004, for The Million Dollar Kick; Flicker Tale Children's Book Award, 2007, for Miss Daisy Is Crazy!

WRITINGS:

FOR CHILDREN

Baseball's Biggest Bloopers: The Games That Got Away, Viking (New York, NY), 1993.

Baseball's Greatest Games, Viking (New York, NY), 1994.

World Series Classics, Viking (New York, NY), 1994.

They Came from Centerfield, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1995.

(With Vicki Van Meter) Taking Flight: My Story, Viking (New York, NY), 1995.

Ice Skating: From Axels to Zambonis, Viking (New York, NY), 1995, revised as Ice Skating: An Inside Look at the Stars, the Sport, and the Spectacle, 1997.

Gymnastics, Viking (New York, NY), 1996.

The Kid Who Ran for President, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1996.

The Pitcher Who Went Out of His Mind, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1997.

The Catcher Who Shocked the World, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1997.

The Green Monster in Left Field, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1997.

The Shortstop Who Knew Too Much, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1997.

The Million Dollar Shot, Hyperion (New York, NY), 1997.

(With Keith Bowen) Katy's Gift, Running Press (Philadelphia, PA), 1998.

Virtually Perfect, Hyperion (New York, NY), 1998.

(Adaptor) Cal Ripken, Jr., and Mike Bryan, Cal Ripken, Jr.: My Story, Dial (New York, NY), 1999.

Funny Boy Meets the Airsick Alien from Andromeda, illustrated by John Dykes, Hyperion (New York, NY), 1999.

The Kid Who Became President, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1999.

Joe DiMaggio, Aladdin (New York, NY), 1999.

(Under pseudonym Herb Dunn) Jackie Robinson, Aladdin (New York, NY), 1999.

Funny Boy versus the Bubble-Brained Barbers from the Big Bang, illustrated by Mike Dietz, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2000.

Landslide! A Kid's Guide to the U.S. Elections, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2000.

Johnny Hangtime, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2000.

The Million Dollar Kick, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2001.

Funny Boy Meets the Chit-Chatting Cheese from Chattanooga, illustrated by Mike Dietz, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2001.

The Secret Life of Dr. Demented, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 2001.

Qwerty Stevens, Stuck in Time: The Edison Mystery, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2001.

Qwerty Stevens, Stuck in Time with Benjamin Franklin, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2002.

Babe Ruth and the Ice Cream Mess, illustrated by Elaine Garvin, Aladdin Paperbacks (New York, NY), 2003.

Race for the Sky: The Kitty Hawk Diaries of Johnny Moore, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2003.

The Million Dollar Goal, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2003.

The Get Rich Quick Club, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2004.

The Million Dollar Strike, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2004.

Jackie Robinson and the Big Game, illustrated by Elaine Garvin, Aladdin (New York, NY), 2006.

The Million Dollar Putt, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2006.

The Homework Machine, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2006.

Getting Air, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2007.

Casey Back at Bat (sequel to "Casey at the Bat" by Ernest Lawrence Thayer), illustrated by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2007.

Nightmare at the Book Fair, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2008.

"BASEBALL CARD ADVENTURE" SERIES; FOR CHILDREN

Honus and Me, Avon (New York, NY), 1997.

Jackie and Me, Avon (New York, NY), 1999.

Babe and Me, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2000.

Shoeless Joe and Me, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2002.

Mickey and Me, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2002.

Abner and Me, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2005.

Satch and Me, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2006.

Jim and Me, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2008.

"MY WEIRD SCHOOL" SERIES; FOR CHILDREN

Miss Daisy Is Crazy!, illustrated by Jim Paillot, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2004.

Mr. Klutz Is Nuts!, illustrated by Jim Paillot, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2004.

Mrs. Roopy Is Loopy!, illustrated by Jim Paillot, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2004.

Miss Hannah Is Bananas!, illustrated by Jim Paillot, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2005.

Miss Small Is off the Wall!, illustrated by Jim Paillot, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2005.

Mr. Hynde Is out of His Mind!, illustrated by Jim Paillot, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2005.

Mrs. Cooney Is Loony!, illustrated by Jim Paillot, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2005.

Miss Lazar Is Bizarre!, illustrated by Jim Paillot, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2005.

Ms. LaGrange Is Strange!, illustrated by Jim Paillot, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2005.

Mr. Docker Is off His Rocker!, illustrated by Jim Paillot, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2006.

Ms. Kormel Is Not Normal!, illustrated by Jim Paillot, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2006.

Ms. Todd Is Odd!, illustrated by Jim Paillot, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2006.

Ms. Patty Is Batty!, illustrated by Jim Paillot, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2006.

Ms. Holly Is Too Jolly!, illustrated by Jim Paillot, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2006.

Mr. Macky Is Wacky!, illustrated by Jim Paillot, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2007.

Ms. Suki Is Kooky!, illustrated by Jim Paillot, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2007.

Ms. Coco Is Loco!, illustrated by Jim Paillot, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2007.

Dr. Carbles Is Losing His Marbles!, illustrated by Jim Paillot, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2007.

Mrs. Yonkers Is Bonkers!, illustrated by Jim Paillot, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2007.

Mr. Louie Is Screwy!, illustrated by Jim Paillot, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2007.

My Weird School Daze! (omnibus), HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2007.

FOR ADULTS

The Greatest Games, Compute Books (Greensboro, NC), 1985.

I Didn't Know You Could Do THAT with a Computer!, Compute Books (Greensboro, NC), 1986.

It Ain't Cheatin' If You Don't Get Caught, Penguin (New York, NY), 1990.

(Editor) Douglas J. Hermann, SuperMemory, Rodale Press (Emmaus, PA), 1991.

Baseball Babylon: From the Black Sox to Pete Rose; The Real Stories behind the Scandals That Rocked the Game, Penguin (New York, NY), 1992.

Banana Bats and Ding-Dong Balls: A Century of Baseball Invention, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1995.

The Way Baseball Works, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1996.

Also author of self-syndicated column "Computer Report Today," 1983-90, and monthly column in Success. Contributor to periodicals, including Esquire, Writer's Digest, Newsweek, Village Voice, Discover, Science Digest, Psychology Today, and USA Today.

SIDELIGHTS:

Dan Gutman is a prolific author whose favorite topic—baseball—often appears in the fiction and nonfiction he writes for children. Although he started his career penning nonfiction titles such as World Series Classics, Baseball's Biggest Bloopers: The Games That Got Away, and Baseball Babylon: From the Black Sox to Pete Rose; The Real Stories behind the Scandals That Rocked the Game, Gutman has captured a loyal readership with his humorous middle-grade novels. Among Gutman's most popular books for younger readers are his time-travel "Baseball Card Adventure" books, his "My Weird School" series, and a sequence of books that includes The Million Dollar Shot, The Million Dollar Putt, and The Million Dollar Strike. Casey Back at Bat, a picture book featuring artwork by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher, presents Gutman's sequel to a favorite American poem: "Casey at the Bat" by Ernest Lawrence Thayer. Once more facing the pitcher's mound at Mudville, Casey keeps readers in suspense in a rhyming story that Horn Book critic Miriam Lang Budin described as a "clever mock-heroic ballad" that "finds exceptional partnership" in the illustrators' nostalgic-themed collage art.

Born in New York City in 1955, Gutman was raised in nearby New Jersey and attended Rutgers University, where he earned a bachelor's degree in psychology in 1977. After two years of graduate school, he moved back to New York City, hoping to break into the field of humorous journalism established by writers such as Art Buchwald. Undaunted by the countless rejection letters he received, Gutman persisted, publishing the magazine Video Games Player in response to the growing popularity of games like Pac Man and Space Invaders. As editor, he was able to establish a healthy track record of published articles, and by the late 1980s he decided to once again submit his work to mainstream magazines. Sports being one of his main interests, Gutman decided that this would be his focus.

Gutman's success at publishing sports articles led him to author several books on baseball, among them It Ain't Cheatin' If You Don't Get Caught, which focuses on the more unsportsmanlike side of America's pastime. From there, encouragement from his young son inspired Gutman to write for children. Baseball's Greatest Games and Baseball's Biggest Bloopers were the immediate result of his nonfiction efforts, while his first book of juvenile fiction, They Came from Centerfield, deals with baseball while also showcasing Gutman's characteristic humor. With its mix of sports and alien invasion, the story appealed particularly to young boys, and Gutman found himself launched on a new career.

In Gutman's "Baseball Card Adventure" books the author plants interesting historical facts in entertaining stories about some of the greats of the sport. In Honus and Me readers meet Joe Stoshak, a preteen baseball fan and player-in-training who supplements his participation in the sport by collecting baseball cards. While earning money by cleaning out an elderly neighbor's attic, Joe finds an old baseball card that turns out to be the most valuable card in the world. The 1909 "Honus Wagner T-206" is more than just a collector's item, however, as Joe finds out when he is transported back in time to meet the actual baseball player and get a few pointers on his swing. Praising Gutman's "direct, no-frills writing style" and the inclusion of interesting trivia about the early game, a Publishers Weekly reviewer added that for readers looking for "a snappy plot along with the play-by-play, this novel hits at least a triple." A Kirkus Reviews critic praised Honus and Me as "a good fantasy for any baseball fanatic," while in Booklist Ilene Cooper maintained that "even readers not into sports will enjoy the fantasy elements."

Gutman continues the "Baseball Card Adventure" series with several more titles involving Joe's time travels to meet famous athletes. In Jackie and Me the boy takes a trip back to 1947 and visits with African-American baseball great Jackie Robinson; Babe and Me finds Joe and his divorced dad traveling to the year 1932 to take in a famous ball game in which Babe Ruth hits a historic home run; Shoeless Joe and Me lands Joe back in 1919, hoping to diffuse the scandal that would destroy the New York Black Sox and sully the reputation of "Shoeless Joe" Jackson; and Satch and Me follows the teen's efforts to clock Negro League pitcher Satchel Paige during the 1942 Negro League World Series. Praising the series as "full of action," School Library Journal contributor Andrew Medlar predicted that Jackie and Me could "spark history discussions and be a good choice for & leisure reading." With its "lighthearted" approach, Satch and Me nonetheless addresses the racism that permeated both baseball and American society during the World War II era, according to Marilyn Tanaguchi in a review for the same periodical, while a Kirkus Reviews writer praised Gutman for creating "a delightful mix of humor, magic and history surrounded by the sheer joy of baseball."

Gutman moves from the baseball stadium to the political arena in his popular middle-grade novel The Kid Who Ran for President. In this novel, twelve-year-old Judson Moon decides to test the system and run for the highest office in the land. As his constituency, Judson marshals thousands of U.S. kids who force their parents to pass a constitutional amendment eliminating age restrictions for the office of president by threatening boycotts of household chores, bed making, and dog walking. Reviewing the novel for Booklist, Carol Phelan dubbed The Kid Who Ran for President "an entertaining romp through the political process" that contains "plenty of humor." In School Library Journal, Elisabeth Palmer Abarbanel deemed the book "humorous" as well as an "informative" introduction to the election process, and in Publishers Weekly a critic described it as a "snappy, lighthearted farce." In Gutman's sequel, The Kid Who Became President, Judson gains elected office and sets a decidedly new tone in Washington.

Other stand-alone novels that capture reader attention without the lure of sports include Virtually Perfect, The Homework Machine, The Get Rich Quick Club, and Getting Air. In Virtually Perfect twelve-year-old Yip, with access to his father's special-effects equipment, creates a "virtual actor" in his computer. Problems arise when the computer-generated, wisecracking teen thespian gains the power to leave the screen and enter reality; Yip has neglected to program him to know the difference between right and wrong. Praising the novel as a "smoothly diverting ‘What if?’ tale," a contributor to Publishers Weekly added that Gutman's "breezy dialogue" and ability to create a fast-paced plot "give this caper the scent of a smartly written sitcom." Noting that Yip's dilemma—whether or not to destroy the creature he created—provides an intriguing moral center to the story, School Library Journal contributor Eunice Weech praised Virtually Perfect as "an amusing and thought-provoking novel."

The Homework Machine finds fifth graders Sam, Judy, Brenton, and Kelsey capitalizing on Brenton's computer program, which completes school assignments with no help from humans. Framed as a series of first-person narratives, Gutman's saga includes the perspective of each of the four students, as well as those of their classmates, their teacher, and even the local police chief as the scheme to gain good grades spins out of control. In Booklist, Phelan described The Homework Machine as a "fast-paced" and "entertaining" story in which the author weaves more serious topics such as "ethics and student computer use." School Library Journal contributor Elaine E. Knight praised Gutman's novel, writing that it intertwines "a dramatic and thought-provoking story with a strong message about honesty and friendship." Noting that the author's "over-the-top tale" ends with a compelling plot twist, a Publishers Weekly reviewer praised The Homework Machine as a "light, sprightly-paced" novel featuring an unique cast of middle-grade characters.

Another group of kids team up in The Get Rich Quick Club, as eleven-year-old Gina Turnolo leads four financially savvy schoolmates in a businesslike scheme to sell a story about alien visitors to a tabloid newspaper. Middle-grade readers "will chortle over Gutman's characteristically broad humor," predicted Booklist contributor Jennifer Mattson, praising The Get Rich Quick Club as a "tart, funny" satire of American avarice. In School Library Journal, Linda Zeilstra Sawyer noted the story's appeal to reluctant readers, and a Kirkus Reviews writer dubbed the book "believable, silly fun."

Geared for older readers, Getting Air trades humor for suspense as thirteen-year-old Jimmy and two friends board a plane to a California skateboarding championship, only to find that the flight is hijacked by terrorists. A battle for control of the plane results in a crash landing in the Canadian wilderness where Jimmy, his friends, and three other survivors must now face a new challenge. Calling Getting Air "a fast-paced adventure keyed to today's headlines," Booklist critic Carolyn Phelan also noted that Gutman's first young-adult novel maintains a slightly unsteady focus due to the author's effort to mix humor with more serious topics. Praising the "can-do attitude" of the young survivors, John Leighton wrote in School Library Journal that Gutman's novel features "a true adventure … with high-spirited and fundamentally good boys as the central characters."

Gutman once explained: "As a kid, I was a skinny, nerdy right fielder for the Galante Giants, a little league team sponsored by the Galante Funeral Home in Newark, New Jersey. I was terrible, but I loved baseball. It's a real thrill to be making a living writing about the game today." One of Gutman's favorite aspects of life as a writer is doing the research: "to dig into old newspapers to research classic ball games, and then recreate them so the readers feel like they're sitting in the stands watching."

Recognizing the popularity his books have among so-called reluctant readers, Gutman views his work as a contribution to building confidence among these young people. "I know that boys are often reluctant to read (I sure was). My hope is that they'll pick up my books because they like sports and then look up hours later to realize they've been reading the whole time. That would give me a lot of satisfaction."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, June 1, 1994, Carolyn Phelan, review of Baseball's Greatest Games, p. 1792; September 15, 1994, Chris Sherman, review of World Series Classics, p. 134; June 1, 1995, pp. 1768-1769; October 1, 1995, Chris Sherman, review of Ice Skating, pp. 300-301; May 1, 1996, Chris Sherman, review of Gymnastics, p. 1500; July, 1996, Wes Lukowsky, review of The Way Baseball Works, p. 1795; November 1, 1996, Carolyn Phelan, review of The Kid Who Ran for President, p. 498; April 15, 1997, Ilene Cooper, review of Honus and Me, pp. 1428-1429; October 1, 1997, Lauren Peterson, review of The Million Dollar Shot, p. 329; June 1, 1998, p. 1766; February 1, 1999, Karen Hutt, review of Jackie and Me, p. 974; June 1, 1999, p. 1822; September 1, 1999, p. 132; February 1, 2000, Gillian Engberg, review of Babe and Me, p. 1023; July, 2001, p. 2029; October 1, 2001, p. 342; November 15, 2001, Anne O'Malley, review of The Million Dollar Kick, p. 571; January 1, 2002, Carolyn Phelan, review of Shoeless Joe and Me, p. 857; September 15, 2002, Carolyn Phelan, review of Qwerty Stevens, Back in Time with Benjamin Franklin, p. 235; January 1, 2004, Todd Morning, review of Race for the Sky: The Kitty Hawk Diaries of Johnny Moore, p. 856; August, 2004, Jennifer Mattson, review of The Get Rich Quick Club, p. 1934; September 1, 2004, John Green, review of The Million Dollar Strike, p. 111; March, 1, 2005, Anna Rich, review of "My Weird School" series, p.1218; February 1, 2006, Carolyn Phelan, review of The Homework Machine, p. 48; January 1, 2007, GraceAnne A. DeCandido, review of Casey Back at Bat, p. 114.

Family Life, February 1, 2001, Sara Nelson, review of The Kid Who Became President, p. 93.

Horn Book, May-June, 2007, Miriam Lang Budin, review of Casey Back at Bat, p. 265.

Kirkus Reviews, April 15, 1996, review of Gymnastics, p. 202; September 15, 1996, review of The Kid Who Ran for President, p. 1400; February 1, 1997, review of Honus and Me, p. 223; February 15, 2002, review of Shoeless Joe and Me, p. 257; July 1, 2004, review of The Get Rich Quick Club, p. 629; January 15, 2006, review of Satch and Me, p. 85; February 1, 2006, review of The Homework Machine, p. 131; April 15, 2007, review of Getting Air.

Publishers Weekly, November 11, 1996, review of The Kid Who Ran for President, p. 76; February 10, 1997, review of Honus and Me, p. 84; April 6, 1998, review of Virtually Perfect, p. 79; February 1, 1999, review of Jackie and Me, p. 87; January 31, 2000, review of Babe and Me, p. 108; August 27, 2001, review of The Million Dollar Kick, p. 86; March 18, 2002, review of Babe and Me, p. 106; January 27, 2003, review of Honus and Me, p. 262; September 6, 2004, review of The Get Rich Quick Club, p. 63; December 11, 2006, review of Casey Back at the Bat, p. 68.

School Library Journal, November, 1994, George Delalis, review of World Series Classics, pp. 125-126; August, 1996, Janice C. Hayes, review of Gymnastics, pp. 155-156; November, 1996, Elisabeth Palmer Abarbanel, review of The Kid Who Ran for President, p. 106; December, 1997, Denise E. Agosto, review of The Million Dollar Shot, p. 124; August, 1998, Eunice Weech, review of Virtually Perfect, p. 163; March, 1999, Andrew Medlar, review of Jackie and Me, pp. 209-210; January, 2001, Tim Wadham, review of Johnny Hangtime, p. 130; August, 2001, Lisa Prolman, review of The Edison Mystery, p. 182; December, 2001, Elaine E. Knight, review of The Million Dollar Kick, p. 134; March, 2002, Elaine E. Knight, review of Shoeless Joe and Me, p. 231; August, 2002, Doris Losey, review of Qwerty Stevens, Back in Time with Benjamin Franklin, p. 188; August, 2004, Linda Zeilstra Sawyer, review of The Get Rich Quick Club, p. 87; December, 2004, Taja Alkoriji, review of The Million Dollar Strike, p. 146; February, 2006, Marilyn Taniguchi, review of Satch and Me, p. 131; April, 2006, Elaine E. Knight, review of The Homework Machine, p. 140; January, 2007, Marilyn Taniguchi, review of Casey Back at Bat, p. 94; June, 2007, John Leighton, review of Getting Air, p. 145.

Voice of Youth Advocates, February, 1994, Florence H. Munat, review of Baseball's Biggest Bloopers, p. 395; April, 1995, Ian B. Lande, review of World-Series Classics, pp. 45-46; February, 1996, Beth Karpas, review of Ice Skating: From Axels to Zambonis, p. 395; December, 1996, Connie Allerton, review of Gymnastics, p. 287.

ONLINE

Dan Gutman Home Page,http://www.dangutman.com (March 15, 2008).

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