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Boys of Steel: The Creators of Superman Hardcover – July 22, 2008


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$14.45 FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Only 7 left in stock (more on the way). Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 6 - 9 years
  • Grade Level: 1 - 4
  • Lexile Measure: 760L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers; 1ST edition (July 22, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375838023
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375838026
  • Product Dimensions: 11.2 x 8.9 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #411,397 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 4–6—Nobleman portrays teenaged Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster as outcasts who found solace in the world of pulp magazines and comics. Their peers did not understand their fascination with tales of musclemen and detectives with gadgets, and their teachers deemed the stories that they loved to write and illustrate "trash." Despite these obstacles, the two friends continued writing and illustrating, and in 1934, Siegel had an avalanche of ideas about a new type of hero that he then shared with Shuster, who drew the first concept illustrations of Superman. It took another four years, however, before the superhero would make his public debut in Action Comics #1. MacDonald's illustrations are a tribute to 1930s pulp art, from the lines of the characters outlined in brown to the washes of yellow in the background. While the layout remains primarily in picture-book format, comic-book elements appear sporadically, such as with phrases separated from the rest of the text and placed in oval bubbles. One spread also uses panels to depict Siegel's thoughts as he conceptualized Superman. The story ends with the young men successfully landing a publisher. The afterword fills in more of the details, including Siegel and Shuster's long-running battle with DC Comics for a greater share of the profits, how their Jewish background affected Superman during World War II, and their final years. Boys of Steel is a solid introduction to the history of Superman's creation, especially for children who find an outlet in storytelling and art.—Kim T. Ha, Elkridge Branch Library, MD
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Though rich in thrilling big breaks and cultural touchstones, comic-book history appears most often in books for adults, such as Michael Chabon’s Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay (2000), inspired by the story of Superman’s creators. This book brings the young men behind the Man of Steel to a picture-book audience. Along with a compressed account of the partnership between nerdy high-school outcasts Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel, Nobleman includes insights about superheroes’ cultural significance and the chord struck by Superman—a “hero who would always come home” even as World War II loomed on the horizon. It’s hard to imagine a better sidekick for the text than MacDonald’s illustrations, which capture the look of 1930s comics with their sepia-toned, stylized imagery, although some children may wish for more distinctions between Shuster and Siegel’s bespectacled faces. The narrative ends on an upbeat note, but the detailed, candid afterword clues youngsters into the creators’ bitter compensation battle with DC Comics. A bibliography and assurances that “all dialogue was excerpted from interviews” puts factual muscle on the narrative. Any kid who has scribbled caped crusaders in the margins of homework will find Shuster and Siegel’s accomplishment of interest; this robust treatment does their story justice. Grades 1-3. --Jennifer Mattson

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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See all 16 customer reviews
After reading the book and deciding I wanted to review it, I bought another copy.
Kirk Kimball
I love that Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, were young men living during the depression at the time they created Superman.
Barbarino
Younger children will follow the text, which is readable for slightly older children and entertaining for adults.
Erika Tsoukanelis

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on July 25, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Time was when a comic book wouldn't have had a snowball's chance in Hades of getting into a library's collection. And while some library systems have grown more open to the notion of comic book heroes leaping about their hallowed halls, there's still a great deal of resistance to the idea. Now Marc Tyler Nobleman and Ross MacDonald have found another way to get a fella like Superman into a library, and it's definitely a slick idea. Until now the story of Superman's creators Jerry ...more Time was when a comic book wouldn't have had a snowball's chance in Hades of getting into a library's collection. And while some library systems have grown more open to the notion of comic book heroes leaping about their hallowed halls, there's still a great deal of resistance to the idea. Now Marc Tyler Nobleman and Ross MacDonald have found another way to get a fella like Superman into a library, and it's definitely a slick idea. Until now the story of Superman's creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster has never been told in a format accessible to children. Now in Boys of Steel: The Creators of Superman, Nobleman and MacDonald pay homage to the fellas that brought to life "the greatest superhero of all time," in such a way that no library in the world could object to the book's style and panache. And though I've a quibble with it here and there, the next time you have a seven-year-old moaning about needing to read a biography make sure that this book is the ace up your sleeve.

Dateline: Cleveland, Ohio - The 1930s. Jerry Siegel had many interests but what he really liked to do was escape from the world around him. By reading the tales of Tarzan, Buck Rogers, and other fantastical heroes, Jerry could find high adventure and this was an interest he shared with Joe Shuster.
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Format: Hardcover
I picked up this picture book for my two sons, ages 6 and 4, thinking I'd introduce them to the world of Superman. The book honors the creators, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, but the story is just too "fan-centric" for young kids who are experiencing Superman for the first time.

I want to be absolutely clear. This is a beautiful picture book, a work of love and a book that any die-hard Superman fan would be proud to own. However, it is not a book for young children, especially children under 6. I would consider introducing this book to older children attending grade school for their book report. Jerry and Joe's hardest years are summarized in the book's final three pages. Understandably, poverty, depression and lawsuits are harder to convey in picture book form.

I give a four-star rating for Superman fans but recommend parents of young children look elsewhere to find a Superman story for bedtime reading. I plan to dust this book off in a couple years and share it again with my sons.

Adult fans will want this book on their coffee table along with Superman vs. Hollywood: How Fiendish Producers, Devious Directors, and Warring Writers Grounded an American Icon.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Erika Tsoukanelis on July 28, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Marc Tyler Nobleman has done a masterful job at telling the story of two underdogs who captured the spirit of their time and the imaginations of generations. While more of a Batman and Wonderwoman woman myself, I could not help but root for Jerry and Joe, the painfully shy but brilliant duo who would not give up on their dream creation. Superman was not just a story to them; he was an emblem of goodness and hope. I came away from this deceptively simple text with an appreciation of the ultimate superhero having been birthed during the Great Depression, when many were in need of saving and many more believed in the possibility of such salvation.

Illustrations by Ross MacDonald are understated yet fun, reflective of the time period and subject matter.

Younger children will follow the text, which is readable for slightly older children and entertaining for adults. As a bonus, a more detailed, young-adult level narrative of the struggle Jerry and Joe went through in fighting for the rights to their work can be found in the back of the book. In short, Boys of Steel is for everyone who loves comics, Superman or artistic triumph. Let Boys of Steel take you up, up and away!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By sastexan on April 8, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Very well written, insightful, and great story. The illustrations add to the story and help make the book more interesting for the younger crowd (and older crowd who appreciates comics). This book is one that can stay on the shelf for many years and enjoyed by generations.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By DWD's Reviews VINE VOICE on November 19, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Boys of Steel tells the story of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, the two painfully shy teenagers from Cleveland who created Superman. The two met in school and discovered a common interest in science fiction and fantastic tales. One wrote stories, the other drew. Together they created story after story that never sold. Eventually created Superman and, believe it or not, no one wanted Superman either for three years.

Nobleman tells about their eventual success and their ongoing struggles with DC Comics. He tells the story well but the real star is the art of Ross MacDonald. He has illustrated the entire story in the style of those early Superman comic books and the art just leaps off of the over-sized pages. My eleven year old daughter read it and enjoyed, but probably not as much as me. This one was a winner.
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