Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Boys of Steel: The Creators of Superman

Nobleman, Marc Tyler. 2008. BOYS OF STEEL: THE CREATORS OF SUPERMAN. Ill. by Ross MacDonald. New York: Knopf. ISBN 9780375828036 [Suggested Grade Levels 3-7]

Beginning with the title, this picture book biography grabs readers and draws them into the captivating story of Superman. Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster met in high school and had many things in common: they were both short, wore glasses, were clueless at sports, and unable to talk to girls. Both had an intense love of superheroes. Jerry spent hours writing stories of daring adventures, while Joe would often illustrate Jerry’s tales of daring do. Jerry wonders “What if I was real terrific? What if I had something special going for me, like jumping over buildings or throwing cars around? Then maybe people would notice me.”

Nobleman grounds Jerry and Joe’s story in history. They grew up during the Great Depression and with the coming of World War II, they finally figure out how to develop the hero they’ve always dreamed of creating. The illustrations evoke the era of the 30s and 40s in style and color palate. Nobleman shows Jerry thinking through various ideas and trying to find a marketable hero. This modeling of his creative process is what really sets the book apart. Nobleman adds back material entitled “The Greatest Superhero of All Time” which tells the heart-breaking story of what happens to Jerry and Joe after they create Superman.

Invite students to create a superhero. Use Jerry’s way of modeling his ideas to work out the details of where the hero will come from, what special things he can do, and his alter ego /secret identity.

Other books illustrated by Ross MacDonald featuring superheroes:
BAD BABY. ISBN 9781596430648

By Cay Geisler

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