Module 12: Steve Jobs : The Man Who Thought Different

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Blumenthal, K.. (2012). Steve Jobs: The Man Who Thought Different. New York: Feiwal and Friends Book

Summary

Finalist for the Yasla-Award Excellence in Young Readers, this biography not only tells the story of Steve Jobs and mature role in the company named Apple, but also tells a great story about the computer revolution. This book, aimed at younger readers, describes Jobs as a younger boy and how restless and difficult he was into being an adult, though still reckless and difficult. It paints the picture of how he brought up his company, the products that made Apple what it is today, while discussing the business side of everything and the different parts of the computer. Styled with pictures and interesting bullet point, this book provides a lot of information in an easy to understand way.

Impressions

This is a wonderful biography that really explains to the reader not only how Steve Jobs lived and what kind of man he was, but about what life was like in the 1980s when he was growing his business. It explains the state of computers, what different parts of the computer was, and what it meant to build a personal computer in those days. It also does a wonderful job of explaining basic business information to give readers a solid of understanding of Jobs’ decisions and why he did everything he did, as well as his triumphs and failures. With interesting facts presented in a flowing narration to keep readers interested, this book is suitable for older elementary to middle school readers.

Professional Reviews

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 solid 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.

— Ilene Cooper

Cooper, I. (2012). [Review of Steve Jobs: The Man Who Thought Different]. Booklists. Retrieved from:  http://booklistonline.com/Steve-Jobs-The-Man-Who-Thought-Different-Karen-Blumenthal/pid=5283919

Library Uses

This book is all about computers and does a magnificent job of placing readers into what times were like in the 1980’s. This book could help supplement a program about computers and about the building of the computers. It would be excellent to dissect a modern computer with what computers looked like in the 1980’s when they were first being built. I think this program would be wonderful at showing older elementary students and younger middle school students that the things we think of as necessary for every day life were built by someone. They could then brainstorm what they could build that would one day “change the world.”

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