________________ CM . . . . Volume XX Number 35. . . .May 9, 2014


Steve Jobs: Visionary Entrepreneur of the Digital Age. (Crabtree Groundbreaker Biographies).

Jude Isabella & Matt J. Simmons.
St. Catharines, ON: Crabtree, 2014.
112 pp., pbk., hc., pdf & html, $14.95 (pbk.), $24.95 (RLB.).
ISBN 978-0-7787-1191-9 (pbk.), ISBN 978-0-7787-1189-6 (RLB.), ISBN 978-1-4271-8938-7 (pdf), ISBN 978-1-4271-8936-3 (html).

Subject Headings:
Jobs, Steve, 1955-2011-Juvenile literature.
Apple Computer, Inc.-History-Juvenile literature.
Computer Engineers-United States-Biography-Juvenile literature.
Businesspeople-United States-Biography-Juvenile literature.

Grades 5-8 / Ages 10-13.

Review by Kay Weisman.

** /4



Born at the Right Time

Steve Jobs was born in 1955, in the middle of the post-World War II baby boom. It was a crossroads in time, a point 10 years after the war ended in 1945 and 10 years before the beginning of hippie music festivals in 1965. These events—World War II and the youth culture of the 1960s—created a framework for changes in technology and society that have shaped the way we live today.

Steve was also physically at the crossroads of changes in technology and society. Geographically, California was ground zero for the technological and social revolutions that would reshape the second half of the 20th century. This is where Apple was founded and where Steve grew up—in the Santa Clara Valley, close to San Francisco, the city of his birth.


Isabella and Simmons provide middle grade readers with a rudimentary recounting of the life of Apple computer founder Steve Jobs. Following a description of the 1984 unveiling of the first Macintosh computer, the authors go on to detail Jobs’ early life and education, his “hippie” years, his ups and downs with Apple, and his legacy. The text is illustrated with numerous black and white stock photos which often seem randomly placed. The introductory discussion of Macworld 1984, for example, is illustrated with a photo of the 2008 unveiling of the iPhone and a 2001 photo of Jobs taken at Disney/Pixar.

     The text also includes numerous sidebars, some of which extend for several pages, disrupting the flow of the text. Additionally, these sidebars are often only tangentially related to the main narrative. A section entitled “Simon, the First”, describing a handheld calculator developed in 1949, appears in the introductory chapter along with discussions of World War II, anti-communist rhetoric, the Vietnam War, and creativity. Sometimes the text is also repeated—verbatim—in the sidebars and captions.

     Most disappointing, the text contains no source notes, making this title of very little use to young researchers. Appended with a chronology, glossary, and list of related books, videos, and websites, Steve Jobs is an acceptable choice where demand is high. However, most will prefer Karen Blumenthal’s excellent Steve Jobs: The Man Who Thought Different (Feiwell and Friends, 2012), written for young adults, or the definitive Steve Jobs (Simon & Shuster, 2011) by Walter Isaacson, published for adults.

Recommended with Reservations.

Kay Weisman, a librarian and reviewer, now writes “Information Matters” for School Library Monthly and works as a youth librarian at West Vancouver Memorial Library.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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