The Cartoon Introduction to Statistics
Don’t know the difference between a hypothesis and a standard deviation? Want to learn how to conclude something about a whole population by taking data on just one sample? Lucky for you, certain readers out there, we have The Cartoon Introduction to Statistics by Grady Klein and Alan Dabney, Ph.D. to teach you the basic ins-and-outs of statistics, from samples to populations to probabilities to hypothesis testing.

Coauthored by Klein and Dabney and illustrated by Klein, readers will feel as though they are in the middle of an introductory statistics class, which makes this book perfect for those in college or high school courses related to the topic. I would have loved this book during my statistical studying days. The ability of the book to present often complicated and math-heavy content in an easy to understand, logical, and humorous manner is a testament to the creators. Starting with the very basic definitions of statistics, it moves flawlessly into calculations and derivatives to the ultimate goal of hypothesis and testing—all without becoming bogged down in mathematical formulas and hard to understand explanations. Entertaining examples allow the concepts to be explained in a down to earth way, and the authors make sure to include a section in the back called “The Math Cave” for those readers who wish to delve a little more deeply in the math aspect of the topic.

As for the illustrations, this illustration style was new to me—I hadn’t read one of Klein’s graphic novels before, so, at first, I wondered if my advanced reading copy had illustrations that were going to be colored in or otherwise changed for the final product. Nope, the illustrations are the same in both books and I came to be quite enamored of Grady’s illustration style. The book is colored entirely in black and white with some areas of grey shading. Everything can be recognized as what it is supposed to be, from rhinoceroses, humans, and worms to aliens and pigs, but nothing is drawn so much to likeness that it would be seen as photo realism. Details of specific objects are nondescript, the line work is a mixture of thick and thin and is very free-form (if I may take a phrase Klein used himself in a Comics Reporter interview). Another interesting tidbit from that article is that Grady really puts a lot of emphasis on gesture drawing—and once I went back to the book it stood out like a sore thumb. Gestures really define the people and animals in this book; movement and action are showcased, so the characters within seem like they are actually in motion. There are a lot of graphics and charts in the book, too. Of course there would be, considering it’s a book about the art of statistics. But they are well placed and used—not too much, not too little—and truly add something to the illustrations. Characters are often interacting with these graphs and symbols which make them seem more alive in the picture, not just a static picture of a graph. Klein’s illustrations are free form enough to fit perfectly with the precise and exact nature of the subject matter. They brought some whimsy into the detailed and precise nature of statistical analysis.

This book would definitely be appreciated by those struggling with statistics as well as those with a general interest in the subject. It’s a nice introductory book to the topic that anyone could jump right into.

The Cartoon Introduction to Statistics
by Grady Klein, Alan Dabney, Ph.D.
Art by Grady Klein
ISBN: 9780809033591
Hill and Wang, 2013

  • Traci

    | She/Her

    Traci has been a graphic novel selector and collections coordinator for kids and teens in libraries in Arizona and Oregon since 2005. She served as the chair of YALSA's Great Graphic Novels for Teens selection committee, and served as a member of the Great Graphic Novels for Teens blogging team. She previously coordinated the Oregon Young Adult Network’s Graphic Rave list, OYAN’s yearly list of the best graphic reads for teens. Traci is a member of ALA, YALSA, and GNCRT. And, she achieved her greatest dream ever by serving as a judge for the 2019 Eisner Awards.

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