We are delighted to join the Nonfiction Picture Book meme 2018 hosted by Alyson Beecher @ Kid Lit Frenzy. We would also be linking our nonfiction choices with our reading themes throughout the year, when we can.
Over the past weeks, we have been featuring quite a number of picturebook biographies (PBB) as befitting our current reading theme, which we are enjoying tremendously. This week, I am glad to feature a fairly recent PBB on Ruth Bader Ginsburg that has just been published August of last year.
Written by: Jonah Winter Illustrated by: Stacy Innerst
Published by: Harry N Abrams (2017)
Borrowed from the NIE Library. Book photos taken by me.
Unlike Levy and Baddeley’s version, Winter and Innerst packaged Ginsburg’s biography to resemble that of a trial in court, as a case being presented to the reader-audience, with exhibits shown here and there as evidence to prove their point. This was not altogether maintained throughout the narrative, but it served its function.
I especially liked how Ruth’s relationship with her mother was highlighted. This was also significant as it showed how the roots of inequality have been sown into Ruth at an early age, with her mother not being allowed to pursue her own dreams, given the predominant belief at the time that the woman’s place is in the home, serving her family.
Ruth’s mother brought her to the public library and surrounded their home with books, which the young Ruth devoured as a child: mythology and Nancy Drew mysteries being her favourite.
Much of the elements found in her life story resemble that of eminent women as found in the scholarly literature on gifted people. She was shown to have multipotentiality with her ability to play an instrument, involvement in the school papers, even doing baton twirling at one point.
Then there is also the affiliation vs achievement concerns often evident among gifted girls, as she tried to conceal her intelligence in order for her to find a significant other. It was to the world’s benefit that she found Martin Ginsburg who celebrated her mind and appreciated how different she was from most women.
Another aspect found in biographies of gifted women in gifted literature – is their good choice in life partners who supported their endeavours and were not threatened by their accomplishments – something fairly evident in Ruth’s narrative as well. The excerpt above is one classic example of how strong in spirit and mind Ruth Bader Ginsburg is: when her husband fell ill, she attended his classes in Harvard Law School, on top of her own, while taking care of their newborn baby and serving as editor of Harvard Law Review. A quintessential woman, she is.
With each picturebook biography I read of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the more in awe I am of the woman that she is. In the Author’s Note, it says that:
“…she was not originally what you’d call a maverick. But the obstacles she encountered as a woman pursuing a career path in an unjust, male-dominated field and society turned her into one.”
Very few people really follow a pre-determined path in life – most rise up to the occasion and are fashioned not just by their training but by the zeitgeist of their times that brought out the best in them. I hope to read more works written by Ruth herself for me to have greater insight into the fascinating and incredible woman that she turned out to be. Clearly, the world is a better place with her in it.
#LitWorld2018GB Update: USA