Hartland, Jessie. Steve Jobs: Insanely Great. New York: Schwartz & Wade, 2015. 978-0-307-98295-7. 240 p. $22.95. Gr. 7 and up.
This latest biography of Steve Jobs is much like the beloved products he designed; it is deceptively simple and accessible. However, when you look deeper, the detail and the level of thought that went into this book becomes obvious. Like most biographies, Insanely Great starts with Jobs’ birth, talks about his major life events in a mostly chronological fashion, and ends with his death in 2011. This book is unique in that it is told in a graphic format. The drawings are not particularly artistic, and Jessie Hartland’s penmanship won’t win any awards, but this book gets it right. It pictures Jobs as a brilliant man who is obsessed with simplicity of design and wants to make the perfect product for consumers. However the book does not shy away from some of the negative aspects of Jobs’ personality. He was a rule-breaker from his earliest days, was often difficult to get along/ work for, and had a tendency to abandon people who did not fit into his life anymore (including the mother of his first child and, arguably, Steve Wozniak, the technical genius behind Apple’s designs). This book will appeal to students who might not be taken with the more traditional Steve Jobs biographies out there. Insanely Great is easy to understand, the drawings are engaging, and it is a fast read. One gets the feeling that Steve Jobs would have been very happy with this telling of his life story.
92 Graphic Biography Susan Fox, Washington JSHS
Although this book is primarily about the life of Steve Jobs, there are panels throughout the book that place events in a historical context by showing the technology of the times from the 1970’s to the 2000’s (which is humorous for us people “of a certain age”). Jessie Hartland also includes timelines of developments in computer technology as well as visual explanations of computer terms like RAM and CPU. This book is educational on many levels, and students who take the time to read all of the explanations will end up learning quite a bit. Steve Jobs: Insanely Great IS an insanely great book that will be enjoyed by a wide range of students.