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Boys of Steel: The Creators of Superman by…
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Boys of Steel: The Creators of Superman (edition 2008)

by Marc Tyler Nobleman, Ross Macdonald (Illustrator)

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RayJones63's review
Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster are two outcasts growing up in the time of the Great Depression. To escape their everyday lives, they develop the idea of Superman- just what everyone needs to stay positive in such a negative time. ( )
  RayJones63 | Apr 25, 2012 |
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I read this book because I had recently been introduced to the world of comics and graphic novels. Part of me expected this book's illustrations and design to be in the standard comic format, but this wasn't the case, with the exception of only one page. I thought this made that particular page, which discusses the initial conceptualization of Superman, incredibly effective. Because this demonstrates a distinction between comics and traditional illustrated stories, but it also shows Superman in his original habitat.
  biarias | Mar 14, 2014 |
Nobleman, M. (2008). Boys of Steel: The creators of Superman. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.

9780375838026

Appetizer: This picturebook explores the biographies of Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. The story begins while Siegel was still in high school, so he'll be a relatable child-like character (although a bit older than the intended readers). The book shares about their friendship and later partnership as they came up with the idea for Superman, illustrated it and sought out a publisher.

As an adult, I couldn't stop thinking of Michael Chabon's The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, which took me an entire semester to finish reading while I was in undergrad. A teacher could take advantage of this by having students consider the number of different ways Superman has been re-imagined (from Smallville, Lois and Clark, Superman Returns, to the speech Bill gives about Superman toward the end of Kill Bill Vol. 2).

Another way to focus on this story is as the artist's journey, showing the inspirations and work it takes to develop an idea.

I liked that the illustrations were done in a classic style with broad shouldered characters that one would expect to see in old comic books (or even in some Dick and Jane series).

This is one of those historical biographies where you know many readers aren't going to engage with the person being described very well. But then, there are those few awkward turtles, who like Jerry, don't have many friends, don't like to participate in sports, are too afraid to even talk to members of the opposite sex.... Okay, so there are a lot of awkward turtles out there who can relate to Jerry. But chances are good they are a few years older than the intended audience. Despite the fact that this book is at a third or fourth grade reading level, it's probably sixth, seventh or eighth graders that will relate to the character the most. At that age, it can be difficult to get a tween or teen to pick up a picturebook. Chances are good graphic novel and comics fans will be willing to take a chance on it, but it'll probably be up to the teacher to put the book in their hands.

Dinner Conversation:

"Most days, Jerry Siegel slipped into the halls of his high school staring at the floor. He always wished he was going in the other direction--back home. That's where he could be with his friends. They were an extraordinary bunch."

"Jerry read amazing stories every evening, every weekend, every chance he got. If he wasn't reading, he was watching--the cinemas had no shortage of rousing motion pictures about daredevils who laughed at danger."

"Jerry also wrote his own adventure and science fiction stories. He'd pound away at his typewriter by the front window in his attic."

"While Jerry was typing in his attic, Joe was drawing in his kitchen, using a breadboard as a surface."

"In life, people got pushed around. Children lost parents. Criminals got away. In stories, heroes could prevent all of that."

To Go with the Meal:

A teacher could help adding meaning to this picturebook by exploring the context of the time period and its culture. While doing lectures on the Great Depression, a teacher could also bring in some classic comics of Tarzan or Flash Gordon.

Since Jerry had lost his father in a bank robbery, a teacher could focus on his grief and how he used that energy to help him create his art.

With middle grade students in particular, a teacher could discuss how some people feel excluded or included depending on their interests. Going off of this, a teacher could also encourage students to use books and art as a way to escape their problems.

Students could also research Jerry and Joe in more depth, learning more about their childhood and Jewish background and influences (on a side note, I was a little disappointed that aspect of their biographies was excluded. Sure, there is a brief mention that Samson was one of the inspirations for Superman, but I could have heard more).

Tasty Rating: !!! ( )
  SJKessel | Jul 3, 2012 |
good story for all. very funny that the 2 guys look so similar and wear the same clothes. ( )
  mahallett | Jun 24, 2012 |
00001536
  cavlibrary | Jun 3, 2012 |
This book tells the lives of the creators of Superman: Jerry and Joe. They began writing and illustrating when they were in high school but could not sell their comic book until their college ages.

Superman is a beloved character in American culture but I feel like Jerry and Joe should even be more that. You HAVE to read the author's note at the back of the book. The narrative was great but the history behind DC Comics and the men who actually created the idea of Superman is very emotional and worth the 3-page read. I think boys in my classroom will fight over this book!! ( )
  missbrandysue | May 15, 2012 |
Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster are two outcasts growing up in the time of the Great Depression. To escape their everyday lives, they develop the idea of Superman- just what everyone needs to stay positive in such a negative time. ( )
  RayJones63 | Apr 25, 2012 |
This informational picture storybook told the story of how Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster created the superhero, Superman, beginning with how and why they met in high school. I think that the author is very knowledgeable about the subject, as there are three extra pages of more in depth information about Siegel and Shuster at the end. The story is in chronological order, ending with the creation and success of Superman. I would recommend this book to other people, especially if you are interested in comics. ( )
  chelsea6273 | Mar 18, 2012 |
In the 1930s, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster lived on a fare of pulp magazines, comic strips, and action movies. While they dreamed of being heroic like the characters that populated the media, the two teenaged boys also worked on their own creative outputs. Jerry wrote science fiction works his teachers considered trashy, while Joe work on illustrations in his spare time. Eventually the duo thought of combining their respective talents and creating their own comic strip to sell to newspaper syndicates. But finding a unique hero was proving to be a problem. That is, until Jerry had a light bulb idea one night and dreamed up a hero who was an alien who came to earth to protect humans … “The real Earth, the Great Depression Earth. That was something different. The other heroes Jerry and Joe about were regular humans in strange places. This hero would be a stranger in a regular place.” And so Superman – and his alter ego Clark Kent – was born and that mythos has since become an ingrained part of our culture.

Nobleman tells the story of Siegel and Shuster’s famous creation against the backdrop of the Great Depression so readers will glean clues about the scarcity faced by many during that time period. For instance, the reader learns that when his family had no money to spare for art paper, Joe would resort to drawing on the back of butcher’s paper wrapping the family’s dinner or any other scraps of paper he could find. Other economic concepts are highlighted briefly in the duo’s search for an editor and the Superman character becoming a franchise. An author’s note at the end provides more details, particularly expounding on issues of copyright and payments to the Superman creators after their character took flight.

http://econkids.rutgers.edu/new-picture-books-in-2008-first-word-a-i/2197-boys-o...
  EconKids | Feb 19, 2012 |
In the 1930s, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster lived on a fare of pulp magazines, comic strips, and action movies. While they dreamed of being heroic like the characters that populated the media, the two teenaged boys also worked on their own creative outputs. Jerry wrote science fiction works his teachers considered trashy, while Joe work on illustrations in his spare time. Eventually the duo thought of combining their respective talents and creating their own comic strip to sell to newspaper syndicates. But finding a unique hero was proving to be a problem. That is, until Jerry had a light bulb idea one night and dreamed up a hero who was an alien who came to earth to protect humans … “The real Earth, the Great Depression Earth. That was something different. The other heroes Jerry and Joe about were regular humans in strange places. This hero would be a stranger in a regular place.” And so Superman – and his alter ego Clark Kent – was born and that mythos has since become an ingrained part of our culture.

Nobleman tells the story of Siegel and Shuster’s famous creation against the backdrop of the Great Depression so readers will glean clues about the scarcity faced by many during that time period. For instance, the reader learns that when his family had no money to spare for art paper, Joe would resort to drawing on the back of butcher’s paper wrapping the family’s dinner or any other scraps of paper he could find. Other economic concepts are highlighted briefly in the duo’s search for an editor and the Superman character becoming a franchise. An author’s note at the end provides more details, particularly expounding on issues of copyright and payments to the Superman creators after their character took flight.

I reviewed this book for EconKids. ( )
  sweetiegherkin | Jan 27, 2012 |
JERRY SIEGEL AND Joe Shuster, two misfit teens in Depression-era Cleveland, were more like Clark Kent—meek, mild, and myopic—than his secret identity, Superman. Both boys escaped into the worlds of science fiction and pulp magazine adventure tales. Jerry wrote stories, and Joe illustrated them. In 1934, they created a superhero who was everything they were not. It was four more years before they convinced a publisher to take a chance on their Man of Steel in a new format—the comic book. The author includes a provocative afterword about Jerry and Joe’s long struggle with DC Comics when they realized they had made a mistake in selling all rights to Superman for a mere $130!

Marc Tyler Nobleman’s text captures the excitement of Jerry and Joe’s triumph, and the energetic illustrations by Ross MacDonald, the author-artist of Another Perfect Day, are a perfect complement to the time, the place, and the two young visionaries.
  Junep | Feb 14, 2009 |
Biography Picture Book format. Excellent story of the creators of Super Man.
  pholli | Feb 4, 2009 |
This picture book biography of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster tells the story of the co-creators of Superman. As kids, these two shy, bookish boys escaped the world by diving into pulp magazines with heroes like Tarzan and Flash Gordon. With Jerry writing and Joe drawing, they created one of the most iconic superheroes ever.

Vintage-style drawings illustrate this book and really give the reader a feel for the time period. An afterword gives more detailed information on the duo's legal battles with DC Comics who retained the rights to Superman and left Siegel and Shuster out to dry (basically). An informative book sure to please comic book fans and anyone looking for an interesting biography. (Grades 3-5.) ( )
1 vote abbylibrarian | Aug 17, 2008 |
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