This comic book geared at pre-teen and teen readers tells the fascinating life story of renowned German Jewish educator and psychologist Dr. Ruth Westheimer. The framework of this biography is a fictional trip through an amusement park with her grandchildren.
Dr. Ruth’s biography is full of dangerous situations, some overcome by luck, some by determination and diligence. Out of these pages comes an amazing role model. Her father was arrested by the Nazis; her mother and grandmother managed to save her by putting her on a Kindertransport to an orphanage in Switzerland. There she learned in secret, as the orphanage only educated boys. After the war, Westheimer went to Israel where she worked on a kibbutz and trained as a sniper with the Hagganah. After immigrating to America, she worked as a maid, studied, became a college professor, and later worked as a radio host. Her German accent, which became part of her trademark, combined with her insight and humor, gained her popularity. Proud as she is of her career, she is even prouder of her family.
The book’s illustrations effectively separate the time periods by using sepia for the past versus full color for the present. Informative and upbeat, this is a timely immigrant biography.
Ellen G. Cole, a retired librarian of the Levine Library of Temple Isaiah in Los Angeles, is a past judge of the Sydney Taylor Book Awards and a past chairperson of that committee. She is a co-author of the AJL guide, Excellence in Jewish Children’s Literature. Ellen is the recipient of two major awards for contribution to Judaic Librarianship, the Fanny Goldstein Merit Award from the Association of Jewish Libraries and the Dorothy Schroeder Award from the Association of Jewish Libraries of Southern California. She is on the board of AJLSC.