________________ CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 11 . . . . November 11, 2011


Sonia Sotomayor: U.S. Supreme Court Justice.(Crabtree Groundbreaker Biographies).

Alex Van Tol.
St. Catharines, ON: Crabtree, 2011.
112 pp., pbk. & hc., $14.95 (pbk.), $24.95 (RLB.).
ISBN 978-0-7787-2546-6 (pbk.), ISBN 978-0-7787-2537-4 (RLB.).

Subject Headings:
Sotomayor, Sonia, 1954- -Juvenile literature.
United States. Supreme Court-Biography-Juvenile literature.
Hispanic American judges-Biography-Juvenile literature.
Judges-United States-Biography-Juvenile literature.

Grades 4-7 / Ages 9-12.

Review by David Ward.

***½ /4



“Judge, I would like to announce you as my selection to be the next Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.” U.S. President Barack Obama.

The Supreme Court is the highest court in the country. Needless to say, it was an exciting moment for Sonia Sotomayor. For weeks up until that day, rumors had been swirling. News had leaked about Justice David Souter’s plans to retire from the Supreme Court- and people had been whispering that Sonia Sotomayor was being considered as one of several possible successors for Justice Souter. Sonia was excited by the possibility, but she refused to believe the rumors until she heard the official word.

When the president called, Sonia was nervous. “I had my cellphone in my right hand, and I had my left hand over my chest, trying to calm my beating heart, literally,” she said. Being told by the president that he wanted her on the Supreme Court was a heady moment – one she had spent her whole career preparing for.

The story of Sonia Sotomayor’s rise to the Supreme Court is a fascinating one. Van Tol writes in familial yet informative narrative. There is a pleasant integration of dialogue quotes and narration, including memories, phone conversations and personal communications to supplement the central text.

      As an information book, Sonia Sotomayor contains a simple balance of black and white photographs, text boxes, key quotes, and symbols pertaining to the United States or the Supreme Court. The cover is in color, and I was a little disappointed that there was not more color included. The mural image on page 101, for example, would have looked amazing in color.

     The book covers a great deal of Sonia’s personal history, including early life, high school, personal interests, marriage, and professional life. It was interesting to learn, for example, that Sonia had type 1 diabetes at the age of eight, that she had an early interest in becoming a detective, and that she lived with her mother and brother in the Bronxdale projects.

     Van Tol starts the book with a carrot: the phone call to Sonia from Barack Obama as his choice for the Supreme Court Justice position. The author then works backwards to bring the reader along through Sonia’s life, from childhood to her current success. The obstacles that Sonia faced throughout her life, including her cultural heritage, poverty, and being the first Hispanic to take a position on the Supreme Court, are well portrayed. The reader is given a clear sense of the struggles and determination that Sotomayor has been through to become who she is now.

     Sonia Sotomayor is an informative read and is appropriate for grades 4-7.

Highly Recommended.

David Ward is an assistant professor and children’s author at Lewis & Clark College, Portland, OR.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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