Children’s

No Truth With­out Ruth: The Life of Ruth Bad­er Ginsburg

Kath­leen Krull; Nan­cy Zhang, illus.
  • Review
By – July 23, 2018

This is the third pic­ture book biog­ra­phy of Ruth Bad­er Gins­burg to appear in two years. For fans of the leg­endary Supreme Court jus­tice, it is a wel­come addi­tion to the expand­ing canon of works that aims to intro­duce her strug­gles and achieve­ments to young readers.

Krull is a vet­er­an author of pic­ture book biogra­phies, includ­ing the pop­u­lar Lives Of series based on the con­tri­bu­tions of accom­plished artists, pres­i­dents, sci­en­tists, and ath­letes. Her col­lab­o­ra­tion with Zhang gives us a fresh and enthu­si­as­tic por­trait of Gins­burg that com­ple­ments the pre­vi­ous two biogra­phies. Krull’s infor­ma­tion-rich text and Zhang’s dra­mat­ic images bring their sub­ject to life with sub­tle­ty and passion.

The book is beau­ti­ful­ly designed, with bold typog­ra­phy by Zegar. The ded­i­ca­tion page is accom­pa­nied by a draw­ing of an enor­mous stack of books, estab­lish­ing — even before her sto­ry beginshow cen­tral read­ing was to young Ruth’s life. On the begin­ning pages, a pic­ture of the adult Gins­burg fol­lows a series of black and white por­traits of some of her ven­er­a­ble pre­de­ces­sors: Ida B. Wells, Alice Paul, Vir­ginia Woolf, and Susan B. Antho­ny. This adds essen­tial con­text, estab­lish­ing that Gins­burg is part of a long tra­di­tion of activism for women’s rights.

Krull empha­sizes the more dif­fi­cult aspects of Ginsburg’s life, point­ing out that her straight-A report cards were met with indif­fer­ence by her father because she was a girl. Zhang’s pic­tures com­ple­ment the text per­fect­ly; here, she shows a small Ruth hold­ing up her accom­plish­ment to her father’s seat­ed back as he reads a news­pa­per. Ginsburg’s moth­er is por­trayed as sup­port­ive, though she accepts noth­ing less than per­fec­tion from her daugh­ter. In one illus­tra­tion, she is shown turn­ing away with a down­cast face as the child deliv­ers an A-. The book also depicts the con­stant prej­u­dice the scary smart” Ruth con­fronts as a young woman in col­lege and law school.

But even out­right mock­ery won’t stop her on her road to a career in law. One espe­cial­ly stun­ning page shows Gins­burg in her cap and gown, eyes closed in a dream-like moment of joy, accom­pa­nied by the state­ment: Ruth was becom­ing a war­rior.” An equal­ly mov­ing image shows the new­ly appoint­ed Supreme Court jus­tice look­ing into the mir­ror. We see her back and face framed by her black robe and sig­na­ture lace col­lar as she con­tem­plates the jour­ney she is about to begin.

No Truth With­out Ruth also includes a time­line of Ginsburg’s life, a graph­ic explain­ing the fed­er­al court sys­tem, a list of some of her most sig­nif­i­cant Supreme Court cas­es, and a brief bib­li­og­ra­phy. These addi­tion­al resources enhance the book for old­er read­ers. Adult RBG fol­low­ers will also love this artis­ti­cal­ly sophis­ti­cat­ed intro­duc­tion to her life and work.

High­ly rec­om­mend­ed for read­ers ages 8 and older.

Emi­ly Schnei­der writes about lit­er­a­ture, fem­i­nism, and cul­ture for TabletThe For­wardThe Horn Book, and oth­er pub­li­ca­tions, and writes about children’s books on her blog. She has a Ph.D. in Romance Lan­guages and Literatures.

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