This is another excellent addition to Rappaport’s “Big Words” series in which she incorporates quotes from the subject of her biography into the narrative.
The late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is featured here, along with samplings of her own voice in larger text and outstanding oil paintings by Eric Velasquez.
Rappaport begins the book when Ruth was a child, taught by her mother to go after her dreams:
“My parents taught me to love learning, to care about people, and to work hard for whatever I wanted or believed in.”
Ruth read a lot as a child, carrying on her dedication to learning throughout her life. At Cornell University she was inspired to become a lawyer in order to do something for society. She was undeterred that at the time, in the 1950s, women made up less than three percent of all lawyers in the United States. Ruth graduated first in her class and was accepted at Harvard Law School.
She married Martin Ginsburg, also pursuing law, who encouraged Ruth to go after whatever she wanted to accomplish. When Marty got a job in New York City, Ruth transferred to Columbia Law School, tying for first place in her graduating class. Not one law firm would consider her:
“Traditional law firms were just beginning to hire Jews, but to be a woman, a Jew, and a mother to boot, that combination was a bit much.”
One of her professors persuaded a judge to hire Ruth as a clerk. She also began teaching law at Rutgers University, albeit paid less than male professors.
“The 1787 notion of ‘We the People’ left out the majority of the adult population: slaves, debtors, paupers, Indians, and women. The Constitution was a document of governance for and by white, propertied adult males.”
Ruth set out to change that.
On January 17, 1973, Ruth argued her first case before the Supreme Court. The judges ruled eight to one in her favor. Over the next few years Ruth won another five of the six gender cases she brought before the Supreme Court.
Her reputation grew and in 1980 President Carter appointed her to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. In 1993 President Clinton appointed her to the U.S. Supreme Court. She famously replied, when someone asked when will there be enough women on the Court,” when there are nine.”
Ruth Bader Ginsburg died on September 18, 2020.
The book ends with a list of important dates in Ruth’s life, an Author’s Note, an Illustrator’s Note, and a guide to more resources on Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Evaluation: Rappaport’s “big words” books are terrific, and this one has the added bonus of not only highlighting a great person in our history, but teaching readers about the laws of our government as well.
Published by Disney/Hyperion, 2020