It’s tempting to go a couple of different ways here.
A book that has “Insanely Great” in the title? What could possibly go wrong?
On the other hand….
A kids book about what a jerk Steve Jobs was. What could possibly go wrong?
Steve Jobs: Insanely Great by Jessie Hartland. An illustrated biography of Steve Jobs aimed at a younger audience which gives an honest, unflinching look at his life, warts and all. Maybe not up to the “insanely great” standard, but engaging and enjoyable with a lot of openings for parents and children to talk about how complicated real people are.
What more could you ask for, really?
Jessie Hartland’s book could very easily done a very superficial life in pictures of Jobs, something that would be interesting and cool and above all inoffensive for his intended audience. Probably mostly the parents and friends of 8-10 year olds who might be interested in technology or Apple products or even just a slice of life. Another audience is adults — Apple and Jobs fans and cultists who will probably read the book on their watch, looking for a brief, quirky but affirmational look at the life of their hero.
Both these audiences would seem to favour a fairly modest accounting of Jobs many flaws as a boss and as a person. The more-than-occasional indifference to family and friends, the perfectionist mercurial obnoxious tightly-wound boss. Easier to focus on his passion and brilliance, his flair for design and laser-focus on simplicity and elegance.
And Hartland is to be congratulated on bringing both of those sides to the table, using his child-like, simple, elegant artwork to bring out the lovable in the obnoxious as well as the obnoxious in the lovable, walking the tightrope of honesty and integrity in storytelling versus an age-appropriate approach.
Because the theme of this book is how even the best and brightest people are complicated and imperfect. Jobs was a genius, but he could be a jerk. Why is that? Are all geniuses jerks? Are all jerks geniuses? Aren’t we all imperfect and why shouldn’t famous people get to be imperfect like the rest of us? These are great conversations that will arise naturally from reading this book with your local young person.
This is a charming book and provocative book for young people. Buy it for the young people in your life as well as any fans of Apple who might want a quick and quirky read. This book is definitely suitable for libraries with children’s collections. Academic libraries that support early childhood education or children literature programs would find an eager audience for this book.
Hartland, Jessie. Steve Jobs: Insanely great. New York: Schwartz & Wade, 240pp. ISBN-13: 978-0307982957
(Review copy provided by publisher.)
Other science graphic novels and illustrated books I have reviewed:
- The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage: The (Mostly) True Story of the First Computer by Sydney Padua
- Les Rêveurs lunaires: Quatre génies qui ont changé l’Histoire by Cédric Villani and Baudoin
- AsapSCIENCE: Answers to the World’s Weirdest Questions, Most Persistent Rumors, and Unexplained Phenomena by Mitchell Moffit and Greg Brown
- Neurocomic by Hanna Ros and Matteo Farinella
- The Cartoon Guide to Climate Change by Grady Klein and Yoram Bauman
- In Real Life by Cory Doctorow and Jen Wang
- Laika by Nick Abadzis
- Lauren Ipsum: A Story About Computer Science and Other Improbable Things by Carlos Bueno
- The Incredible Plate Tectonics Comic: The Adventures of Geo, Vol. 1 by by Kanani K. M. Lee & Adam Wallenta
- Climate Changed: A Personal Journey through the Science by Philippe Squarzoni
- Shackleton: Antarctic Odyssey by Nick Bertozzi
- It’s Catching: The Infectious World of Germs and Microbes by Jennifer Gardy and Josh Holinaty
- Darwin: A Graphic Biography and Mind Afire: The Visions of Tesla
- Survive! Inside the Human Body graphic novel series
- How to fake a moon landing: Exposing the myths of science denial by Darryl Cunningham
- On a beam of light: A story of Albert Einstein by Jennifer Berne and Vladimir Radunsky
- Primates: The fearless science of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Biruté Galdikas by Jim Ottaviani and Maris Wicks
- The Boy who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdős by Deborah Heiligman and LeUyen Pham
- Trinity: A Graphic History of the First Atomic Bomb by Jonathan Fetter-Vorm
- Feynman by Jim Ottaviani and Leland Myrick
- The Stuff of Life: A Graphic Guide to Genetics and DNA by Mark Schultz, Zander Cannon and Kevin Cannon
- Evolution: The story of life on Earth by Jay Hosler, Kevin Cannon and Zander Cannon
- Logicomix: An Epic Search for Truth by Apostolos Doxiadis, Christos H. Papadimitriou, Alecos Papdatos and Annie Di Donna