Equal To Everything: Judge Brenda and the Supreme Court
by Afua Hirsch
illustrated by Henny Beaumont
You may well have heard of Judge Brenda in the context of the Supreme Court's ruling back in September 2019 in which Boris Johnson's proroguing of parliament was found to be unlawful. You may also have seen the extensive media coverage of Judge Brenda's... brooches! (most notoriously an exceptionally large arachnid as she read out said ruling). But did you know that Judge Brenda was the first woman to become a Law Commissioner? And the first ever woman to be a judge in the UK's Supreme Court (remaining so until 2017- there are now 3)? And the first woman to be made President of the Supreme Court? If that record isn't grand and inspiring enough for the children in your life, then they might well enjoy hearing about her legislative roles in the fight for equal pay and the pivotal part she played in writing the Children Act 1989 which placed children's safety and happiness at the centre of child welfare decisions. (N.B.: she was also a celebrity judge on MasterChef 2018!)
A truly rousing narrative and with a fabulous narrative perspective- the Supreme Court and Judge Hale are introduced through the keen voice of Ama on her trip with Class 3 from Richmond, Yorkshire to London's centre. Perhaps where this book triumphs most is in getting children to imagine themselves as the judges of the future- the final image of 12 members of Class 3 (including children from a range of faiths, ethnicities and a wheelchair user), now all grown up, poised in their judges' regalia, contrasts exquisitely with the earlier portrait of the current Supreme Court: all white; mostly male. As the book's publicity material says: "depicts a positive and aspirational vision of the Supreme Court for the future".
There is so much for a classroom to exploit in this book; includes extension notes and archive pics at the back. Rhyming couplets and Beaumont's vibrant splashes of watercolour keep the text super-animated and engaging. Published by the Legal Action Group and written by a former barrister. Favourite illustrations: Judge Brenda in full gown and wig, gloved up in a boxing ring; a Black Rosie Riveter placard blazing out from a sea of women protestors. ['Casual' inclusion of a Black protagonist, multicultural characters and a child who is a wheelchair user]. Age 6-9, Hardback 34pp