Artfully written and interestingly illustrated, this biography tells the story of the first Jewish woman Supreme Court justice. Written with subtle emotion and feeling, it is likely to bring tears to the eye of an adult reader sharing it with a child.
The narrator, a young attorney, presents R. B. G.’s life as a court case and shares the facts with the ‘jury’ of readers. This jury hears of the future jurist’s difficult childhood and how, despite her brilliance, she was discouraged by her father from pursuing her dreams. Her mother, however, supported her education and squirreled away money for Ruth to attend college. The story is sprinkled with humanizing facts about the future Justice: that she “liked books about mythology – and Nancy Drew mysteries”, that she chipped her tooth as a baton twirler in high school, that she studied in the bathroom in college so the boys wouldn’t see her, and other examples of her steadfast determination.
The Case of R.B.G. vs. Inequality continues as evidence is introduced. “Exhibits” are creatively depicted on various legal pads and the accompanying text explains the many examples of discrimination Ruth faced both as a woman and as a Jew. As the story continues, the jury learns that R.B.G. overcame anti-Semitism and misogyny, winning the right for women to have “equal protection of the laws”, becoming only the second woman in history to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals and, ultimately, the first Jewish woman to serve as a Justice on the Supreme Court.
The case closes by explaining that Ruth Bader Ginsburg did not set out to change the world, but that because of her intelligence, perseverance and toughness, “There can be just one verdict…. Ruth Bader Ginsburg has herself become a symbol of justice in America.”
The glossary defines the legal vocabulary and institutions mentioned in the text and an “Author’s Note” further expands upon the “Notorious R. B. G.’s” groundbreaking career and work on the Supreme Court.
The illustrations, in gouache, ink and Photoshop, are at times dreamy and at other times eerie. They evoke the work of Ben Shahn, a Lithuanian-American artist known for his themes of social justice.
Highly recommended for ages 6 to 9.