Category Archives: Books

“The Last Apprentice: Revenge of the Witch” by Joseph Delaney

Mrs. Bishop has kindly allowed us to swap the Biography for a Fantasy, but the due date for book reports remains the same:  Tuesday, February 10th.  Here is the Book Club recommended reading schedule to finish by that time:

  • Friday, 1/2:  Chapters I-III; Pages 1-56
  • Friday, 1/9:  Chapters IV-VI; Pages 57-114
  • Friday, 1/16:  Chapters VII-VIII; Pages 115-172
  • Friday, 1/23:  Chapters IX-XI; Pages 173-248
  • Friday, 1/30:  Chapters XII-XIII; Pages 249-316
  • Friday, 2/6:  Finish Up with Chapter XIV & “The Journal of Thomas J. Ward” (Pages 317-[358]).  Be ready to discuss & write your book report during Book Club.  This is also the release date of the movie adaptation entitled “The Seventh Son,” which turned out to be rated PG-13.  I’ve copied and pasted the book reviews below and will add the movie reviews as they are released.
Booklist starred (August 2005 (Vol. 101, No. 22))

Gr. 5-8. Delaney grabs readers by the throat and gives them a good shake in a smartly crafted story in which the horror is set within the parameters of a boy’s new job. In an unspecified England some centuries ago, Thomas, the 12-year-old seventh son of a seventh son, is taken on as an apprentice by the local Spook. It’s the Spook’s job to keep the surrounding area free from witches, bogarts, and the creepy things that cause shivers in the night. Tom is not sure he’s cut out for the solitary, scary life, and he soon finds himself in trouble, inadvertently freeing a terrifying witch, Mother Malkin, at the behest of a girl named Alice because he’s desperate for a friend. Like Anthony Horowitz’s Raven’s Gate (2005), this is a gristly thriller; Delaney’s descriptions of moldering bodies hoisting themselves from the earth and hairy pigs tearing into a witch’s heart will have readers’eyes opening wide. Yet the twisted horror is amply buffered by an exquisitely normal young hero, matter-of-fact prose, and a workaday normalcy. Still, like Mother Malkin popping out of her earthy pit, bad things are always there to catch readers off guard. As the warning label on the cover notes, this is “Not to be read after dark.”

Horn Book (November/December, 2005)

Tom Ward, seventh son of a seventh son, is apprenticed to the Spook, whose job is to defend the living against ghosts, ghasts, boggarts, and witches. While the Spook is away, Tom agrees against his better judgment to help a local girl who asks him to give some cakes to Mother Malkin, a witch the Spook has imprisoned in a pit; strengthened by a child’s blood in the grisly treats, the old witch breaks out of the pit. Unless Tom can figure out how to stop her, the witch will continue to commit unspeakable evils. Simple, straightforward, easy-to-follow writing is matched with a plot that progresses in predictable increments; the book’s design, with its generous margins and friendly leading, makes it even more accessible. The story is anything but tame, however. Using a dark tone and setting (furthered by sinister black woodcut-style illustrations at the beginning of each chapter), Delaney employs ancient superstitions, such as belief in the supernatural powers of salt and iron, to give his narrative an authentic feel. The spare evocation of the creepily inhuman witches leaves space for readers’ own imaginations to supply the terrifying details. And although there are enough breaks in the action to keep readers from feeling overwhelmed, Delaney knows just how to scare kids: the back jacket contains a warning — “not to be read after dark” — that is more than justified.

Horn Book starred (Spring 2006)

Tom Ward is apprentice to the Spook, who defends the living against ghosts, ghasts, boggarts, and witches. When Tom helps a local girl feed an imprisoned witch, the witch escapes. Unless Tom can stop her, she will continue to commit unspeakable evils. The spare evocation of the creepily inhuman witches leaves space for readers’ own imaginations to supply the terrifying details.

Kirkus Reviews (August 1, 2005)

Readers seeking lots of up-close encounters with the unquiet dead and other creepy entities need look no further. Seventh son of a seventh son, and left-handed to boot, young Tom seems a natural to succeed Mr. Gregory, the aging “Spook” charged with keeping the County’s many ghasts, ghosts, boggarts and witches in check. He’s in for a series of shocks, though, as the job turns out to be considerably tougher and lonelier than he expects. Struggling to absorb Gregory’s terse teachings and vague warnings, Tom is immediately cast up against a host of terrifying adversaries-most notably Mother Malkin, an old and very powerful witch, and her descendant Alice, a clever young witch-in-training who is capable of outwitting him at every turn, but may or may not have yet gone completely to the bad. An appendix of supposed pages reproduced from Tom’s notebook adds little to information already supplied, but along with somber images at the chapter heads, does add atmospheric visual notes. By the end, though Mother Malkin has come to a suitably horrific end, there are tantalizing hints that the Dark Is Rising. Stay tuned. (Fantasy. 11-13)

Library Media Connection (March 2006)

Twelve-year-old Tom is the seventh son of a seventh son. His Mam, who readers are left wondering about when the book ends, wants him to be apprenticed to a Spook. A Spook is someone who protects the county against boggarts, ghosts, witches, and many other scary things. The book cover has a great illustration of a Spook. The Spook agrees to take him on for a month’s trial, after which either party can decide to end the apprenticeship. After the month’s trial, Tom returns home and says no to becoming a Spook, but his Mam says yes. By the end of the book, he has no choice. He has stumbled through his first encounter and learns he can be good at this job. This is Joseph Delaney’s first book, but it can’t be the last. It’s easy to imagine many more encounters for Tom to solve. While the story is a bit predicable, it is an engaging read and sure to appeal to Harry Potter fans. Recommended. Heather Loy, Media Specialist, Wagener-Salley High School, Wagener, South Carolina

Publishers Weekly (July 17, 2006)

A boy apprentices to the village Spook, who keeps the farms safe through supernatural means. “Expert storytelling and genuinely scary illustrations keep this debut novel fresh,” said PW in a starred review. Ages 10-up. (Aug.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Publishers Weekly (October 10, 2005)

Delaney may plumb familiar subjects but expert storytelling and genuinely scary illustrations on Arrasmith’s part keep this debut novel fresh. This first in a planned series, the Last Apprentice, introduces nearly 13-year-old narrator Tom, whose parents arrange for him to apprentice with the Spook, as their farm will be given to their eldest son. A haunting description gives readers a sense of why Tom might be fearful of the Spook, who roams the countryside, protecting farms and villages by supernatural means (“His long black cloak and hood made him look like a priest, but when he looked at you directly, his grim expression made him appear more like a hangman weighing you up for the rope”). However, as a seventh son, like his father, Tom “can see things that others can’t,” such as the corpses of long-ago hanged soldiers that moan and sway at the far end of his family’s property. This is the stuff of skin-prickling campfire stories: Tom must overcome a series of trials to prove himself worthy of the apprenticeship. Readers can almost hear the thumps in the cellar of a haunted house where the hero must spend the night (“Who could have been digging down there in the darkness? Who could be climbing the stairs now? But maybe it wasn’t a question of who was climbing the stairs. Maybe it was a question of what”). After readers race through this tantalizingly creepy tale of solitude and sorcery, they will clamor to learn about Tom’s future adventures. Ages 9-12. (Sept.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

School Library Journal (November 1, 2005)

Gr 5-8-When 12-year-old Thomas, seventh son of a seventh son, is apprenticed to the local Spook, whose job is to fight evil spirits and witches, he expects a life of danger. However, the boy doesn’t realize just how soon he’ll face a powerful enemy alone, as Mother Malkin escapes her confinement while the Spook is away. Thomas is forced to use his wits, and the help of his enigmatic new friend, Alice, to fight the evil witch. And defeating her is only the start of the boy’s problems. Delaney’s characters are clearly presented and have realistic depth, and Thomas’s mother and Alice stand out for their strong words and actions. The protagonist’s voice is clear, and his conflicts over his actions ring true. This first entry in a proposed series is an excellent choice for readers who are looking for a more sophisticated alternative to R. L. Stine’s “Goosebumps” books (Scholastic), and the pacing and edgy illustrations at the start of each chapter will appeal to reluctant readers. Delaney’s rural, quasi-medieval world is populated by a variety of magic creatures, and readers will look forward to discovering more of them, along with Thomas, as the series continues. A solid choice, particularly for middle school boys.-Beth L. Meister, Pleasant View Elementary School, Franklin, WI Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

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Getting Started with “Revenge of the Whale”

Schedule…

February 28:  Introduction to Historical Time Period

March:

  • Scrimshaw Project

April:

  • Watch Moby Dick: The True Story during book club
  • Find out more locally at The Sag Harbor Whaling Museum when it opens up this spring.  You can see part of their collection now on their inventory page.  This is will be an optional activity; it is not a school-sponsored trip.  Parents and students will be responsible for all transportation and costs.

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Soul Surfer Biography Book Review

  • What contribution did this person make to his/her time period? Why is this person important?
  • Define the word challenges.
  • Many important people had to overcome challenges in their lives.  What were some of the challenges this person had to overcome?  Did he/she overcome them? Explain.
  • Is there any aspect of this person’s life, or this person’s beliefs or viewpoints or way of doing things, that can help you with your own life?  Explain.  (Think about the character standards or the Pyramid of Success.)

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Soul Surfer Arcade Games

Use Class Tools Arcade Game Maker to quiz your friends!  Write your questions on this Google Doc first.

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Soul Surfer Book Review Discussion Part 1

While writing your review, you may want to ponder the following:

  1. How old was Bethany at the time of her attack?
  2. How does Bethany say her family influenced her competitive spirit? Religious views?  Educational choices?
  3. What factors contributed to Bethany’s survival?
  4. When does Bethany decide to go back to surfing?  When does she actually return to surfing for the first time?

h-soulsurfer

 

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And Now for Some Nonfiction Ideas…

Below are two nonfiction books that Book Clubs past have loved.  Another great place to find nonfiction recommendations is from the Sibert Awards, either the current winners or past winners  (Just be careful that they meet Mrs. Bishop’s page number requirements!).

img71321Hitler Youth: Growing Up in Hitler’s Shadow

In her first full-length nonfiction title since winning the Robert F. Sibert Award, Susan Campbell Bartoletti explores the riveting and often chilling story of Germany’s powerful Hitler Youth groups.

“I begin with the young. We older ones are used up . . . But my magnificent youngsters! Look at these men and boys! What material! With them, I can create a new world.” –Adolf Hitler, Nuremberg 1933

By the time Hitler became Chancellor of Germany in 1933, 3.5 million children belonged to the Hitler Youth. It would become the largest youth group in history. Susan Campbell Bartoletti explores how Hitler gained the loyalty, trust, and passion of so many of Germany’s young people. Her research includes telling interviews with surviving Hitler Youth members.

img375411Revenge of the Whale: The True Story of the Whaleship Essex

On November 20, 1820, the whaleship Essex was rammed and sunk by an angry whale.  Within minutes, the twenty-one-man crew, including the fourteen-year-old cabin boy Thomas Nickerson, found themselves stranded in three leaky boats in the middle of the Pacific Ocean with barely any supplies and little hope.  Three months later, two of the boats were rescued 4,500 miles away, off the coast of South America.  Of the twenty-one castaways, only eight survived, including young Thomas.  Based on his New York Times best-seller In the Heart of the Sea, Nathaniel Philbrick recreates the amazing events of the ill-fated Essex through the sailors own first-hand accounts, photos, maps, and artwork, and tells the tale of one of the great true-life adventure stories.

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Welcome Back to Book Club! It’s Biography Time…

Happy New Year! It’s time for some new books.  Following Mrs. Bishop’s schedule, we will be reading a biography (due February 11th), followed by Nonfiction (due March 25th).  Because we want to get started on our biography right away, we will vote from the following four books today:

img217334The Poet Slave of Cuba

Booklist starred (February 15, 2006 (Vol. 102, No. 12))

Gr. 7-10. In plain, stirring free verse, Engle dramatizes the boyhood of the nineteenth-century Cuban slave Juan Francisco Manzano, who secretly learned to read and wrote poetry about beauty and courage in his world of unspeakable brutality. His present-tense narrative begins when he is six, when his parents are set free. He remains behind with a mistress who treats him like a pet, making him perform for guests. When she dies, five years later, he is given to a cruel, crazy woman, who has him beaten and locked up at whim. He doesn’t escape until he is nearly 16. Side-by-side with Juan’s anguished voice are the narratives of other characters, including his mother, his demonic owners, and the white child who secretly tries to help. Qualls’occasional black-and-white sketches express Juan’s suffering and strength, and a brief afterword fills in historical background. Related in fast-moving poetry, the cruelty is vivid, as is the boy’s amazing inner power: tied, gagged, and beaten, Juan knows his owner “can’t hear the stories I tell myself.”Today’s readers will hear the stories, though–and never forget them.

Horn Book (July/August, 2006)

In the opening poem of this biography in verse, the enslaved Juan Francisco Manzano bitterly calls himself his owner’s “pet, a new kind of poodle.” As a young boy, Juan impressed his owner and her friends with his prodigious memory, reciting Homer, opera, entire Latin sermons-and his own precociously lovely poetry. Engle alternates between Juan’s perspective and those of his owners and his parents. Although she bases her work on Manzano’s autobiographical notes, this is a work of literary imagination. The slaveholder’s conflicted longings, the parents’ anguish, and especially the boy poet’s determination to preserve his inner life paint an unusually complex and forceful picture of growing up in bondage. When Juan is eleven years old, his owner dies. He becomes the property of a madwoman whose abuses Engle chronicles at length and in grisly detail. The story ends with Juan’s triumphant escape, though, and a historical note adds that both he and his writing later flourished. Engle’s skillful portrait will spark readers’ interest in Manzano’s own poetry, some of which is excerpted in the last few pages. His verse outshines Engle’s a little-as perhaps it should.

Kirkus Reviews (March 15, 2006)

A work born out of love for the man and his poetry, this biography-in-verse pays tribute to Juan Francisco Manzano, who lived between 1797 and 1853. Like many verse novels, the biography is told through alternating points of view, including Juan’s as he grows from childhood to adulthood. Separated from his mother and father, Juan is reared by a slaveholder who adores his genius with words. When he is 11, she passes away. Even though she promised him his freedom upon her death, he remains enslaved, this time to a mentally unbalanced woman who abuses him unmercifully. Amazingly, Juan sustains himself through the tiny kindnesses of others, brief opportunities to make art of any kind and an endless reservoir of hope. This powerful and accessible biography may significantly engage adolescent learners but it could be too brutal for sensitive elementary-school readers. Simple charcoal drawings accompany the text and capture its emotional and geographical atmosphere. (Biography. 10-14)

Library Media Connection (November/December 2006)

Both biographical and poetic, this wonderful book introduces, in poetic verse, the slave poet Juan Francisco Manzano. Torn between two mothers, his birth mother and the “master” who claims him as her own, he must live in both worlds as a much-loved son of his birth mother and a “pet” of his “master mother.” He likewise must keep hidden, to all but a few, his talents with words and art. The life story of Manzano is told through several voices: the poet’s, his birth mother, his “master mother,” his father, and a close friend. The cruelty and prejudice he had to endure as an enslaved person in the late 1700s and early 1800s is described in detail. The reader gets a good view of what slavery was like in Cuba during this time. The book is well illustrated with b&w paintings throughout. This will be a sure hit for students who like biographical poetry, and for classroom poetry units and cross-curricular units on slavery. Highly Recommended. Douglas K. Dillon, Ph.D., Library/Media Specialist, Lakota Plains Junior School, Liberty Township, Ohio

Publishers Weekly (April 17, 2006)

Engle (Skywriting, for adults) achieves an impressive synergy between poetry and biography as she illuminates the tortured life of the 19th-century Cuban poet. Born a slave, Juan is kept like “a poodle, her pet/ with my curly dark hair/ and small child’s brown skin,” by his “godmother” and owner, Beatriz. She grants his birth parents manumission (for a price), while refusing to free Juan until her own death. Juan shows talent for memorization, and recites literature for Beatriz’s amusement. Despite his mother’s payment, Juan is transferred, at Beatriz’s death, to another owner, the Marquesa de Prado Ameno, who punishes Juan cruelly. There he also secretly learns to read and write-posing a threat to the Marquesa and the social order. Engle’s compelling poems shift in viewpoint among seven people, and the technique works beautifully: readers thus draw their own conclusions from Juan, his desperate parents, brutal owners, the Marquesa’s sympathetic son and the conflicted Overseer. Juan’s poems articulate both his enduring pain and dream of release (“I sit tied and gagged./ She is there, behind the curtain./ …/ She can’t hear the stories I tell myself in secret”), while recurring bird imagery signifies elusive freedom. Quall’s (The Baby on the Way) expressionistic half-tone illustrations extend Engle’s exploration of race as a cornerstone of the social caste in Spanish colonial Cuba. (Juan and his family are dark-skinned; the women who own him use a powder of crushed eggshells and rice to lighten their complexion.) An author’s note and excerpts from Manzano’s own poetry round out this sophisticated volume. Ages 10-up. (Apr.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

School Library Journal (April 1, 2006)

Gr 7 Up-This is an absolutely lovely book about the unlovely subject of slavery. It is the biography of an extraordinary young man, with extraordinary intellectual powers, who was born into slavery in Cuba in 1797. Told in verse, it recounts the sufferings and trials of Manzano. As a boy, he was capable of memorizing and reciting poetic verses in many different languages. He could recount epic tales read to him, and in this way served as the entertainment for his mistress and her many guests. Later, when he became the property of a crueler mistress, his talents helped him endure numerous beatings and confinements. It is amazing that he was able to survive, and even more astonishing that he was able to maintain his humanity and his sensitive poetic nature. Manzano’s sufferings are almost too painful to read about, but the experience is made bearable by Engle’s skillful use of verse. Qualls’s drawings are suitably stark and compelling, wonderfully complementing the text. This is an exceptional book on two levels. First, it introduces Manzano to an American public. Second, it introduces readers to slavery as it was practiced in a country other than the United States. Both are noteworthy. This is a book that should be read by young and old, black and white, Anglo and Latino.-Carol Jones Collins, Columbia High School, Maplewood, NJ Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Rachel Carson: A Twentieth Century Life28332S3-7-1

Booklist starred (February 15, 2007 (Vol. 103, No. 12))

Direct, eloquent, and precise, this biography in the Up Close series offers an intimate portrait of environmental pioneer Rachel Carson. In well-paced chapters filled with relevant quotes, Levine traces how Carson’s passion for the science of living things, which began during her rural youth, developed into an astonishing career that helped make careful stewardship of Earth a national issue. Throughout, Levine emphasizes the prevailing attitudes toward women’s roles and how Carson was able to overcome those limiting expectations to break ground and become such an effective voice for environmental concerns. A few of the scattered black-and-white photos and drawings show Carson in the field; source notes and a bibliography close. A balanced, thoroughly researched introduction to an original scientist whose work remains of urgent importance today.

Kirkus Reviews (April 1, 2007)

The combination of Rachel Carson’s gift for writing with her passion for science and understanding the natural world catapulted her into prominence with the publication of Silent Spring, truly one of those books that changed the world. Levine shares much of the facts of her personal life in a way that makes obvious how family challenges and difficulties were always a priority. She conveys Carson’s influence when she relates the professional events, but most vivid are the quotes from her public and personal writing, revealing a powerful intelligence, wit and beauty. There is humor and deprecation of herself as Carson remains modestly unconvinced of her power to change the world, even as she fought cancer while trying to advocate for a new awareness of the interdependence of man and nature. The contrast between the liveliness and elegance of Carson’s words with Levine’s respectful and honest reportage amplifies the reader’s admiration for a woman who cared for her friends and family, yet dedicated her life to making the world a better place. (Biography. 10+)

School Library Journal (April 1, 2007)

Gr 6-9-Levine describes how Carson’s childhood, strong relationship with a supportive mother, and lifelong love of nature influenced her decision to become a biologist and later made her an environmental pioneer. The author draws on numerous primary sources to document the scientist’s life and provides considerable information about her education and early career as well as the work that made her famous. She details how Carson’s determination helped her overcome many obstacles, including financial struggles, gender discrimination, and family crises, and describes her long and courageous battle with the cancer that ended her life. Levine also analyzes how the woman’s work contributed to a greater public understanding of the dangers of pollutants and became the impetus for the environmental movement and related federal laws. Levine is admiring of her subject; she includes a quote comparing the impact of Carson’s work with that of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin, which President Lincoln credited with starting the Civil War. Average-quality black-and-white photos supplement the text and there are extensive notes and an annotated bibliography with a wide variety of sources. This book provides more detail about Carson’s personal life than George Shea’s Rachel Carson: Founder of the Environmental Movement (Gale, 2005), which is shorter and more focused on her career and impact on environmentalism. This is an excellent choice for those who want to learn more about the woman behind the legend.-Mary Mueller, Rolla Junior High School, MO Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

img104659Soul Surfer

From the Publisher: They say Bethany Hamilton has saltwater in her veins. How else could one explain the passion that drives her to surf? How else could one explain that nothing—not even the loss of her arm—could come between her and the waves? That Halloween morning in Kauai, Hawaii, Bethany responded to the shark’s stealth attack with the calm of a girl with God on her side. Pushing pain and panic aside, she began to paddle with one arm, focusing on a single thought: “Get to the beach….” And when the first thing Bethany wanted to know after surgery was “When can I surf again?” it became clear that her spirit and determination were part of a greater story—a tale of courage and faith that this soft-spoken girl would come to share with the world.  Soul Surfer is a moving account of Bethany’s life as a young surfer, her recovery after the attack, the adjustments she’s made to her unique surfing style, her unprecedented bid for a top showing in the World Surfing Championships, and, most fundamentally, her belief in God. It is a story of girl power and spiritual grit that shows the body is no more essential to surfing—perhaps even less so—than the soul.

From Book List Gr. 6-9. Readers may not recall the name Bethany Hamilton, but after a glance at the cover photo, they’ll recognize her as the girl who lost her arm to a shark while surfing. Hamilton tells her own story, though in many places the narrative sounds more like it’s from an adult’s perspective–perhaps from an adult coauthor. It begins with the moment a giant white shark chomps off her arm. She then goes back to discuss the events leading up to the attack and to describe what her life was like before the tragedy–home-schooling in a strong Christian household and lots of competitive surfing. Hamilton’s account is suffused with her feelings for God and His impact in her life. Perhaps because of this relationship, she never seems depressed about her situation; in fact, she is surfing again. The inset of color photos offers further insight into Hamilton’s life. Although this may quickly date, it has automatic appeal for a wide range of readers

img82430Steve Jobs: The Man Who Thought Different

Booklist starred (February 15, 2012 (Vol. 108, No. 12))

Grades 7-10. Walter Isaacson’s best-selling biography, bolstered by 40 interviews with its subject, is the current gold standard for books about Steve Jobs, but Blumenthal’s in-depth look at the innovator’s life makes a close runner-up and a winner for younger audiences. Blumenthal, a former business reporter, uses a speech Jobs made to a graduating class at Stanford as an inviting hook to draw readers in. He told his audience stories about the most important incidents in his life, beginning with his adoption, and how the dots of his life connected in mysterious ways. His adoptive father was skilled with his hands and a perfectionist, a trait Jobs carried on, sometimes to extremes. The worst moments in Jobs’ life, like being fired from Apple, the company he built, led him to bigger and better moments, and an eventual return to Apple, where he would give the world iPods, iPhones, and iPads. His final story was about his cancer, and his message was to “follow your heart and intuition.” Through original interviews, a smart use of source material, and a wonderfully easy-going style, Blumenthal gives a full portrait of Jobs, with his many well-documented flaws (which here might be a tad underplayed), his original and far-sighted aesthetic, and his willingness to push himself and others to achieve the best—as he perceived it. One advantage this has over Isaacson’s book is the well-placed sidebars that explain everything from how computer memory works to Jobs’ distinctive wardrobe. This is a smart book about a smart subject by a smart writer. To be illustrated with photographs. Glossaries and sources are appended.

Horn Book (May/June, 2012)

“On a warm June day in 2005, Steve Jobs went to his first college graduation — as the commencement speaker.” In his brief address to the Stanford graduates, Jobs shared three personal stories from his life, and Blumenthal uses these stories as a template for his biography. Jobs co-founded Apple, becoming a pioneer of the personal computer industry, but a mid-career renaissance also saw him leave an indelible mark on three additional fields: movies (Pixar), music (iPod), and cell phones (iPhone). His remarkable business acumen was not without some notable failures, however, and Blumenthal notes that these were matched by quirks (not to mention shortcomings) in his personal life. Even as he led Apple to ever-greater heights, Jobs was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, finally succumbing to the disease late in 2011 at age fifty-six. Blumenthal’s journalistic style suits the subject, and she uses the words of Jobs and his closest associates to paint an engaging and intimate portrait. Few biographies for young readers feel as relevant and current as this one does. Black-and-white photographs are interspersed throughout the narrative, and some interesting tangents are unobtrusively placed in sidebars. Source notes, a bibliography, a glossary, and an index are appended. jonathan hunt

Horn Book starred (Fall 2012)

Blumenthal’s journalistic style suits the subject, and she uses the words of Jobs and his closest associates to paint an engaging and intimate portrait. Few biographies for young adults feel as relevant and current as this one does. Black-and-white photographs are interspersed throughout the narrative, and some interesting tangents are unobtrusively placed in sidebars. Bib., glos., ind.

Kirkus Reviews (February 15, 2012)

An admiring though not entirely adulatory view of our era’s greatest technology celebrity, rightly dubbed (by U2’s Bono) “the hardware software Elvis.” Blumenthal weaves her portrait on the thematic frame used by Jobs himself in his autobiographical 2005 Stanford commencement address. She “connects the dots” that led him from his adoption as an infant through his “phone phreaking” days to a spectacular rise and just as meteoric fall from corporate grace in the 1980s. Following a decade of diminished fortunes and largely self-inflicted complications in personal relationships, he returned to Apple for a spectacular second act that also turned out to be his final one. Despite getting bogged down occasionally in detail, the author tells a cohesive tale, infused with dry wit (“He also considered going into politics, but he had never actually voted, which would have been a drawback”) The book is thoroughly researched and clear on the subject’s foibles as well as his genius. A perceptive, well-wrought picture of an iconic figure well worth admiring–from a distance. (endnotes, photos, time line) (Biography. 11-14)

Publishers Weekly (March 5, 2012)

Framing her work around the themes of a lauded commencement speech that “technology rock star” Jobs delivered to Stanford University’s class of 2005, Blumenthal crafts an insightful, balanced portrait of the enigmatic man whose life was cut short by illness in 2011. The book chronicles Jobs’s boyhood passions for technology, simplicity, and design that led to his rocky tenures with the technology company he helped create, was fired from, and returned to and led to the heights of its success. Readers receive a primer in technological advances, including the mathematics of animation, as well as Jobs’s vision for product design and marketing innovation. Blumenthal relates accounts of Jobs’s eccentric hygiene and eating habits, his infamous tantrums and tirades in the workplace, and his harsh treatment of colleagues, loved ones, and friends. However, his charisma often won the day, and commentary from Jobs and his wife, given near the end of his life, help soften the picture. Numerous b&w photographs and sidebars appear, and an author’s note, technology time line, glossary, index, and bibliography give this volume extra polish. Ages 12-up. Agent: Ken Wright, Writers House. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

 

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