“'There's cold chicken inside it,' replied the Rat briefly; 'coldtonguecoldhamcoldbeefpickledgherkinssaladfrench

'O stop, stop,' cried the Mole in ecstacies: 'This is too much!'”
-- from
The Wind in the Willows

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Bill the Boy Wonder ▪ Nonfiction (illustrated)

by Marc Tyler Nobleman  illustrated by Ty Templeton
July 2012  Charlesbridge  Ages 8 and up    
This is the true story of how Batman began.
Story:  Every Batman story is marked with the words “Batman created by Bob Kane.” But that isn’t the whole truth. A struggling writer named Bill Finger was involved from the beginning, helping to invent Batman, his foes, and his haunting origins. Bill the Boy Wonder is the first book about the unsung man behind the Dark Knight. With the release of the new Batman movie this summer, this book is sure to be a hit with readers.
The Story Behind the Story: Marc Nobleman explains:  "The last line in the first panel of the first Batman story refers to Batman, but for at least a quarter century, it also applied to the man who wrote it: “His identity remains unknown.”

Until I began to dig, a lot of the little we knew about Bill was thanks to Jerry Bails, the enterprising comics fan and independent publisher who died in 2006. His pivotal 1965 interview, in which Bill explained just how much he’d done at the dawn of Batman, resulted in a fanzine article called “If the Truth Be Known or ‘A Finger in Every Plot!’”

Jerry Robinson, who began working with Bill and Bob shortly after Batman’s debut, said, “[Bill] had more to do with the molding of Batman than Bob. He just did so many things at the beginning, . . . creating almost all the other characters, . . . the whole persona, the whole temper, the . . . origin of Batman.” In another interview, he was even more direct: “Bill Finger deserves co-credit for the creation of Batman, simple as that.”

Bob’s greatest talent may have been the ability to recognize other talent. His greatest flaw may have been the inability to honor that talent. Bill’s greatest flaw may have been the inability to defend his talent. His greatest talent was the ability to forge legends. Simple as that."

Find out more online:

Charlesbridge’s Bill the Boy Wonder page 

Check out the book trailer:



janew said...

I love nonfiction biographies and this book is one of the best! Nobleman is a skilled writer who stays within nonfiction's boundaries while telling Bill Finger's story with all the excitement and intrigue of a 'someone's been done wrong story'. Templeton's comicbook style illustrations capture the time period with detailed authenticity and accuracy. It will be the rare reader who closes the book without being 'wowed'. Last, Nobleman's Author's Note allows the reader to glimpse his research process and it reads like a darn good mystery. Source notes, a bibliography, and a primary source note written by Finger's in 1933 bring the book near to a close but not before primary source quotes atop endpapers with Batman's silhouette are shared. What a tribute! What a story! What a book! Thank you for telling the story.*****5 stars

Pat Hensley said...

It is geared for ages 8 and up and looks like a simple picture book. Even though it looks like a simple book, the story was fascinating. It is a nonfiction story about someone that I had never heard of before. The story was so interesting that I couldn’t stop without reading the whole book and I would think students would feel the same way. I think this would be a great book for the classroom and a school library. This book would be great for classroom discussions because there is an activity and discussion guide that goes with it. Themes would include writing, struggling, comics, superheroes, design, plots, teamwork, standing up for yourself, friendships, and investigation. There were opportunities to learn new vocabulary throughout the story.

I would definitely give this book a 5 out of 5!

Linda B said...

I was delighted when I read this book and immediately gave it to one of my 4th grade students to read. The book is a great opening to talking about civil rights and prejudice, and even self esteem. I would recommend the book to guidance counselors, teachers, and just a great book for that student who sits doodling at his desk while working. It reminds us about the creativity inside our students. Excellent use of vocabulary—hightailed, scrawled, potential, intimidating…I would give it a 5 out of 5 points.

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed this book and look forward to sharing it with my 6th graders. I will use this book to open my biography/aughts biography unit. It will lead to many discussion about giving credit wear credit is do, and how people get recognized. I really liked how the story was illustrated. It is a book worth sharing. This is a 5 in my basket.

Anonymous said...

What can I say...absolutely outstanding in all respects! Definitely can be used in the classroom to introduce biographies. Sure bet to get the attention of the most reluctant reader. Definitely a 5++++++!

dmuldawer said...

What a beautiful book! I got it today and read it in one sitting.

The prose is beautifully written, the picture are lovely, and the underlying themes of justice and redemption are compelling.

I am donating this book to our middle school library and plan to recommend it to the New Mexico Battle of the Books committee as a terrific non-fiction choice.

This is a must-have book for every elementary and middle-school library that will be gobbled up by avid and reluctant readers alike.

Picnic Basket Rating: 5

Marc Tyler Nobleman said...

I'm the author of this book and I am humbled by all of your kind comments. I wish Bill Finger could see them!

Thank you so much; the book was the result of 5 years of long days of work so it is both exhilarating and scary to see it go out into the world!

I especially appreciate hearing what you think kids will think of it. On that note, I regularly speak at schools nationwide (and starting to go internationally). If any of you work at or know schools that host author visits, please contact me (email at top of my blog Noblemania). We can have a Capes Day!

PLLoggerR said...

Bill the Boy Wonder by Marc Tyler Nobleman is a great graphical biography about a little known person. As the story of Bill Finger, the real author of the Batman comic books, it is appropriate that the biography was done in a graphical format. This format will attract a wide range of readers beyond the Batman fans. The story will appeal to many who dream of writing and of being heard.

Thank you for sharing the story and the book.

A picnic basket 5!

Becky, Director Peacham Library

Anonymous said...

This book is simply amazing. To think I'd actually be glued to a book about the creator, sorry co-creator of Batman! I found the story to be interesting and completely captivating. I think this book would grab the attention of the children and really teach them something along the way. It offers endless opportunities for lessons. Nobleman is a very skilled writer and certainly knows how to find obscure stories and make them completely fascinating.

This book deserves nothing less than a 5.

cyezak said...

I loved this book. It is great to read about someone who is doing a job because the love it, not necessarily what money they get from it. It also provided me with a different insight into Batman and his creators. I believe that Batman is really Bill Finger. I love the the illustrations. I also know that my students will love being able to read and discuss not just cartoons, but the story line behind it.

I give this 5 stars!

Catherine Yezak, Marquette Public Schools, Marquette, Michigan

Anonymous said...

I've always enjoyed biographies, and what better tribute to the co-creator of Batman than telling the story in the style of the comics he did so much to help create. It reads like a picture book, it looks like a comic, and it tells a fabulous story that ever Batmanian (a word I did not know until reading the book) ought to know about the Caped Crusader. This book is a great reminder of the good that can come from a seemingly negative situation. This book definitely gets a 5 out of 5 from me!

Carol, Maine said...

From the end papers to the text type to everything in between the cover and the author's note, this falls nothing short of an exemplar model of juvenile literature. The potential for critical discourse around this book are endless. By the end of the author's note a tear of sadness at the unfairness of it all fell from my eye to the phrase "he just didn't live long enough". And then I started right back at the beginning again, admiring the cover, and reading it from top to bottom. The story has so many cool parallels in the illustrations to support comprehension and add appeal, like Secret Identity 1, the comic style panels, and the clothing and artifacts.

Most of all, Nobleman demonstrates that writers need to be curious, determined, and willing to chase what they don't know and want to find out. That you shouldn't just write about what you know, rather it is most important to have a really good question and go after the unknown. Discover something important or in this case, uncover a legacy that was so close to slipping away for ever. I can only imagine how much Milton would have loved this book. 5 star rating.

The next day I asked one of my 5th grade students who loves superheros and graphic novels, and is an inspiring illustrator, to read it. Almost 40 minutes later he came to me and replied, "Milton Finger deserves credit." His 4 words were powerful and insightful. Reading this book changed him a little bit, gave him something he didn't have before, the same way I felt." Carol, Maine

Anonymous said...

Great book with many uses for YA readers. Graphic novels like this one need to be on book shelves to capture readers attention and hearts.

Thanks for a great read.

(I had this book and had to share and did not get it back until today. Too good not to pass along.)

Caren, Pennsylvania

Lemon the Duck said...

I felt privileged to share this book with my students and uncover this special secret with them.
I read this biography to my second graders in 2 sessions. They were mesmerized. How could this happen, they wondered. How can I find out more, etc.
The format of this book immediately drew them in and I was impressed with their knowledge of comic books through the ages. They connected with the format and the "story" easily.
The activity guide and discussion questions were a great resource, but I easily fit some of the themes of this book into my current curriculum/lessons that very day!
We used this as a springboard for our Open Circle Lesson about "Speaking Up" for yourself. I also used it as an introduction to time-lines. My students were highly motivated when I connected these lessons to "Bill the Boy Wonder."
Although I think the target audience is 3rd grade or above, with support, grade 2 easily comprehended and enjoyed this as a read-a-loud.
I rate this book a 5 out of 5.
Laura Backman
Hathaway School

Heather S. Hill said...

"Bill the Boy Wonder" is one of those great stories that you can come back to again and again and get something different out of it each time. The graphic novel layout of the story will appeal especially to boys, but all will love the story because everyone knows Batman. Great read-aloud for 4th and 5th grade. Could also be used for a lesson in writing a biography.

This book is a 5 out of 5 in my picnic basket.

Anonymous said...

Fascinating and unusual biography. Comic/graphic style will appeal to reluctant readers. Kids will love reading about someone they have likely never heard of before and it may spur them to embrace biographies about other unique people.