Ruth Bader Ginsburg Couldn't Drive? (Wait! What?)

Image of Ruth Bader Ginsburg Couldn't Drive? (Wait! What?)
Release Date: 
November 1, 2022
Norton Young Readers
Reviewed by: 

“Hats off to you, Dan Gutman, for showing us the whole woman in an enjoyable and accessible way.”

This is the fifth book in Dan Gutman’s Wait! What? Series about famous people. Ruth Bader Ginsburg might be the most important American woman in the history of America, along with Martha, Dolly, Kamala, and Sandra. She was the first Jewish woman to become a Supreme Court Justice. 

The book is divided into ten chapters after a four-page introduction. Ruth’s father was Russian, her mother was Polish but born in the USA. Ruth’s real name was Joan, and her nickname was Kiki. She liked sawing in woodshop more than sewing in Home Economics classes.

The book is filled with quirky and kid-friendly facts. There are many books out there about RBG, but this one is the most fun. The book is narrated by a girl named Paige and a boy named Turner. The back-and-forth dialogue leaves room for jokes and fun facts. Things are explained when one of the narrators doesn’t understand. The pair of narrators discuss everything from stoopball to prunes, a running joke throughout.

Allison Steinfeld’s illustrations are black and white, except for the cover, which is purple with bright blue letters. They, too, are quirky, like talking driver’s licenses and RBG doing a lay-up in basketball in her Supreme Court Justice robe and big glasses.

Ruth had a bad singing voice. Her music teacher told her to mouth the words but not sing.

There’s even a praying mantis from Madagascar named after her. She and her daughter Jane were the first mom-daughter pair to attend Harvard Law School.

RBG started law school with only nine women in the class of 552 students. Some of her classmates called her Ruthless Ruthie. There’s a page that lists the many things women could not do in the 1930s and 1940s.

The book is filled with RBG quotations, such as, “It’s true. I was a very bad driver” and “Reading is the key that opens doors to many good things in life.” One Marty Ginsberg (husband) quote is, “Ruth is no longer permitted in the kitchen.” She was a bad cook.

The book is easy to read and laid out with both big and tiny illustrations. It could’ve come with an RBG trivia game and a stuffed RBG doll. There’s so much to learn about the woman who stood up for American women’s rights all those years on the bench as the second female Supreme Court justice.

Fun information doled out in small doses and lots of white space make this book a winner, one that should be in every school library. Hats off to you, Dan Gutman, for showing us the whole woman in an enjoyable and accessible way.