Review of Ruth Objects: The Life of Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Ruth Objects: The Life of Ruth Bader Ginsburg
by Doreen Rappaport; illus. by Eric Velasquez
Primary, Intermediate    Disney-Hyperion    48 pp.
2/20    978-1-4847-4717-9    $17.99

Velasquez’s riveting jacket portrait of Ginsburg, superimposed on a facsimile of the U.S. Constitution, conveys a woman of purpose; Rappaport’s biography, largely focused on Ginsburg’s work for gender equality, reinforces this first impression. Despite societal inequalities between men and women in the 1950s, Ginsburg receives a full scholarship to Cornell and is then accepted to Harvard Law School. She graduates first in her class from Columbia (where she had transferred), but not a single law firm interviews her. She begins teaching at Rutgers with a salary less than her male counterparts and a legal barrier against claiming her student husband as a dependent. After joining several lawsuits addressing these issues, she successfully argues one such case before the Supreme Court. Rappaport’s narrative scope includes Ginsburg’s personal life, where her marriage mirrored her beliefs of shared and equal gender roles. Generous oil paintings place Ginsburg front and center except in illustrations relating to her marriage; there both husband and wife share the visual spotlight. Ginsburg’s own words, stating both the inequalities she endured and her own convictions, conclude thus: “When I’m sometimes asked when will there be enough women on the Court, and I respond when there are nine, people are shocked. But the Supreme Court has had nine men for ever so long, and nobody’s ever raised a question about that.” Appended with a timeline, notes from both author and illustrator, a brief bibliography, and source notes.

From the March/April 2020 Horn Book Magazine.

Betty Carter
Betty Carter, an independent consultant, is professor emerita of children’s and young adult literature at Texas Woman’s University.

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