Book By: Aaron Bacall
Review By:  Pat Alexy Stoll
Office of the Dean
Rowan University

Writing a 600-word book review on Aaron Bacall’s The Lighter Side of Staff Development turns out to be quite a challenge since the book itself does not contain 600 words. Let me explain.

Bacall’s book is actually a group of 84 cartoons that can be used in various professional development and training scenarios. Anyone who has ever sat through a training and development session knows that a bit of humor can go a long way to relieve the tedium of several hours of presentation on a given topic. The cartoons have a we-are-in-this-together mentality that pokes fun at training sessions and trainers with a gentle, wry  sense of humor. The artist’s background is varied: teacher, curriculum writer, and research chemist who is currently a cartoonist and coordinator of medical programs in continuing education at the College of Staten Island in New York. It is not surprising that he works in the adult education field because most of the applications of these cartoons would be in settings with adult students/employees.

Of the 84 cartoons, 38 can be used for general presentations by either corporate or educational trainers; 17 are applicable to the K-12 school setting, and 29 deal with education in general (the K-12 arena as well as higher education). None of the cartoons focuses specifically on advisement, but many of them show a staff/professional development workshop from the audience’s point of view—and usually at the expense of the presenter.

The main audience for this little book appears to be the training and development professional who could incorporate these cartoons into a presentation. Indeed, Bacall invites the reader to use his work in the Introduction to the book, so there are no copyright issues. He appears to endorse sharing his work. It would have been helpful if the publisher had included a CD; the cartoons could have been downloaded for easier inclusion in a presentation. Although the book is small, there is no Table of Contents or Index. A listing of the cartoons by subject would have saved some time for the reader.

This is not a classic advisement book that needs to be part of the individual academic advisor’s professional library; however, its purchase is recommended for the general library in the Advisement Center.  Opportunities to present to colleagues, both inside and outside, are frequent enough in the academic advisement field to warrant purchasing a copy of this unassuming book that will enlighten as well as entertain.


The Lighter Side of Staff Development. Book by Bacall, Aaron. (2005). Review by Pat Alexy Stoll. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press, 84 pp. $19.95. ISBN 1412905060.


Actions: E-mail | Permalink |