Written by Jonah Winter: Illustrated by Stacy Innerst
Abrams Books for Young Readers. 2017
Note: While Cathy Potter is on Sabbatical, Louise is writing all the reviews. Cathy will return February, 2018.
The cover portrait of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the subject of Jonah Winter’s latest picture book biography is striking. Innerst's painting beckons readers to open and learn more about a remarkable woman who overcame many hardships to become the first female Jewish Supreme Court Justice.
Winter presents Ginsburg’s story as a court trial.
“Ladies and gentlemen of the jury: During this trial, you will learn about a little girl who had no clue just how important she would become. You will see the unfair world she was born into - where boys were valued more than girls, where women were not encouraged to achieve and aspire. You will see evidence of that unfairness, just as she herself has seen it all her life.”
Ruth Bader was born in Brooklyn, New York on March 15, 1933. Her parents were immigrants who fled Europe to escape anti-Jewish persecution. It would be Ruth’s mother, who graduated from high school at age fifteen and who would have gone on to college had it been an option to women at that time, that encouraged Ruth to have a good education. “Ruth saw her mother save every penny she could for her daughter to someday go to college.”
Not only would Ruth battle anti-semitism in 1930’s and 1940’s America, she would also come up against the attitude that only men needed a college education as she attended Cornell University, then Columbia where she graduated with her degree in law.
Throughout her career, Ginsburg would be a strong voice for women’s rights. In 1972, Ginsburg became the leader of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Women’s Rights Project. “Though Ruth herself was not a revolutionary, what she did for women was revolutionary. She won the right for women to get “equal protection” of the laws - to be treated as equal as men.”
And the verdict? There can be just one. “Because she did not give up, because she refused to let other people define her limitations as a person, Ruth Bader Ginsburg has herself become a symbol of justice in America.”
The illustrations, made with gouache, ink, and Photoshop, use an earthy palette of browns, sepia, and gray with highlights of pinks and reds; a perfect compliment to the text.
Back matter includes a glossary of terms and a lengthy author’s note.
Perfect for including in any display of women for Women’s History Month.
To write this review, I borrowed a copy of this book from my local public library.