Cover Image: Ruth First Never Backed Down

Ruth First Never Backed Down

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This biography is really important. Not only does it show a Jewish woman forced from her home for her beliefs, it shows a woman who fought against apartheid in South Africa.

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This picture book will acquaint young students/children with Ruth First, a girl who grew up to fight apartheid in South Africa. Her story is simply and well told here and includes the difficulties she faced. Ruth was imprisoned, exiled from her country and lost her life after having been targeted by the government.

While Ruth is not as well known as someone like Nelson Mandela, this white, Jewish girl/woman fought for the cause that she believed in. It is time that her story was told and her passion and bravery recognized.

Many thanks to NetGalley and Lerner Publishing Group for this title. All opinions are my own.

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A tribute biography to a leader in the movement that tore down the apartheid government of South Africa. Ms Joseph walks us through the setting that Ruth First grew up in. We see how her parents’ quest for equality helped ignite a spark that would help her contribute to freeing a nation. Pictures help young readers grasp concepts while the text is chunked into small, clear sections. A timeline and list of famous contemporaries who were part of the movement to overthrow apartheid is include at the end. A great addition for personal and elementary school libraries.

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“Ruth First Never Backed Down” is a nonfiction picture book that provides a history lesson about Apartheid, the south African legal system in the twentieth century that insured inequal rights between the races. Like many adults, I knew of Nelson Mandella and Desmond Tutu. But I was not familiar with other anti-apartheid activists. This biography tells a story of a young woman who as a grandchild of Jewish immigrants that fled discrimination, grew up in a household aware of social injustice. She went on to be a major voice against apartheid.

The book is aimed at primary grade students and explains the concepts in simple, easy to understand language. Gabhor Utomo’s earth tone and pastels watercolor artwork provide realistic illustrations. First’s death is handled in a sensitive manner, with Utomo’s illustration merely showing an office that has been damaged and an inset picture of a grave site. the biography is followed by a detailed timeline of apartheid and a list of several anti-apartheid leaders with short one paragraph biographies. This book belongs in all public and school libraries.

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This book introduces readers to Ruth First, a Jewish activist who opposed South Africa’s apartheid policies. She recognized the importances of speaking out and writing about her ideas. The book is clearly written and well illustrated. It introduces an important voice into the history of opposition to apartheid.

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It was a cute story and a good way to introduce fighting racism for younger audiences. I also appreciated the list of people to look up for after reading.

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This story of Ruth First, a Jewish South African freedom fighter, is exceptionally well done and deserves space on all library shelves, particularly school shelves. As a former high school media specialist, I searched for books of this nature all the time because they are just what high school teachers need to introduce topics organically and in a way that grabs students’ attention. RUTH FIRST NEVER BACKED DOWN is perfect for this. It’s both informational and heartfelt without feeling didactic. I especially loved the thread about Mother Africa woven throughout. A truly beautiful and important story about standing up and speaking out!

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I received an electronic ARC from Lerner Publishing Group through NetGalley.
Powerfully written and illustrated book about Ruth First from childhood through death. She is a role model for perseverance and standing up for others. Readers learn of the protests and fight she waged with others for freedom in South Africa. Though she did not live to see Apartheid dismantled, she was a strong part of why the world changed. I appreciate Joseph sharing her voice so young readers learn about this strong and brave woman.

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A wonderful story written about an important person in the fight against racial segregation. Many people do not realize that racial tensions are a global problem, not just an American problem. I appreciate that people are still finding stories of those who fought against the oppressive racial systems to create change and build a better world.

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I’d heard of the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa, but the only name I associated with it was Nelson Mandela. How wonderful to learn about Ruth First, an anti-apartheid hero I’d never heard of before.

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Such an important story.
Beautiful artwork!
This needs to be told, and this is the perfect avenue for young learners.

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"Ruth First Never Backed Down" tells the story of (you guessed it) Ruth First, a South African woman who fought to end apartheid.

Written for young readers, this picture book covers First's life from a young age—learning from her parents about structural and systematic racism in South Africa—on through her years as a student, activist, and exilee. Her family was from Latvia and had escaped persecution as Jews in Europe, so perhaps they saw the injustice more clearly than others were willing to. I was not familiar with Ruth First prior to reading this—she was murdered well before I was born, and all told I have not read that much about South Africa under apartheid—but it's a valuable read. It's probably one where it's useful for adults to have some additional information on hand, as it's likely to raise questions, but the story successfully walks a fine line between 1) being direct about the realities of both apartheid and opposing apartheid and 2) keeping things at a level that young readers can grasp. I'll have to look for First's account of being detained by the South African government, because it sounds like she was, well, not one to back down.

The illustrations are lovely, and I particularly appreciate the understated way in which First's age progresses throughout.

Thanks to the author and publisher for providing a review copy through NetGalley.

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This biography is intended for audience of 7-11 years old and brings an inspiring character.

Ruth First was born into Jewish family who fled Eastern Europe. Her grandparents felt welcomed in South Africa where Ruth’s parents grew up and Ruth was born. But there was a dark side to South Africa. It had a system called apartheid.

Ruth grew up in a household where parents held meetings and spoke up against anti-Black racism. Ruth from young age became active in making a difference. She started a book club where they discussed inequality. Then, she spoke out in public. In college, she wrote for the school newspaper.

During her studies, she met other activists, among them Nelson Mandela. Her life was dedicated to fight for equality. She never stopped doing it, even when the newspaper she wrote for was banned and after she was released from prison.

This is a very touching story, beautifully presented, and commemorating one of incredible voices that ended the apartheid system in 1990s in South Africa. The words are exquisitely chosen and reflect the spirit of this incredible character. The story has a good flow, and is supported by nice illustrations.

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This picture book biography is about a Jewish woman who grew up in South Africa after her family immigrated there in the early 1900s to escape persecution. The story shows how Ruth First came to advocate for the freedoms of Black people living under apartheid, allying with others and using her platform as a journalist to raise international awareness.

The book explores some of the reprisals that First faced, and it ends on a grim note with her death in a targeted bombing. The main text doesn't explain what happened, but the illustration depicts broken and singed things in her office, and the author's note includes more details. Because most people reading this will have never heard of Ruth First, the ending will blindsided many readers, and parents of sensitive children should be aware of the dark and challenging topics that this book covers.

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Ruth First Never Backed Down is about a Jewish woman who was born and raised by her family in South Africa after they fled from dangers in Europe in the early 1990s. Ruth was a staunch fighter for equality and the end of apartheid, the legal segregation of blacks and whites. She fought and ultimately died for this cause. She was one of the biggest activists in speaking out against the injustice in her country.

I loved this book. It's always inspirational to read about people like Ruth, even while it's often upsetting to read about the freedoms that people have had to fight for in our fractured world. The language in this book is simplified, but the story is still told eloquently and powerfully. The illustrations are perfect - beautiful and relevant in support of such a strong story. I absolutely recommend this as part of your classroom or school library. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Thanks Netgalley and the publisher for the opportunity to review this advanced review copy (ARC) in exchange for my honest review on the book!

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I love the children’s picture books about famous people that are coming out these days. Firstly because I have often never heard of them, and secondly I get to learn about them.

In this case,this picture book looks at the life of Ruth First who was a contemporary of Nelson Mandela. She grew up with activist parents, and she went on to be a journalist who exposed the wrongs that were happening in South Africa under apartheid.

The government was not happy with her, and she was forced to live abroad, where she continued to report on the horrors, until she was killed by a bomb sent to her office.

Amazing life, and this picture book explains it very simply, with a great timeline in the back. I am glad to know about one more famous woman that as an American I have never heard of.

Thanks to Netgalley for making this book available for an honest review. This book will be published on the 7th of November 2023.

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Beautifully written and illustrated book about one of the heroes in working to remove racial discrimination in South Africa, this story tells about the relationship between Ruth First, a Jewish South African activist and the Black activists. It introduces the young reader to this portion of South Africa's history, and it shows the commonalities uniting the Jewish and the Black population in fighting for freedom, dignity, and honor. A lovely book.

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I LOVE that there are not too many words on each page! The language is tamed down, and the illustrations are beautiful. I was a new experience for me because I had never heard of Ruth First.

This is a book about segregation in South Africa and helps us understand that it happened everywhere. What little people, like ruth, were able to help end segregation across the world. Her parents put on a good show of how to speak out about what is wrong and stand up for what you believe in. She even as a young teen was able to discuss with friends and started to speak out on her own about what she knew was wrong. She was there to stand by and speak up when segregation was raging and the people who looked 'similar' to her were saying/doing awful things. Ruth lost her life before being able to see through to her fight and will be forever remembered for her kindness and will to speak up.

With the light on what has been happening around the world and especially in America again in 2020. We need to realize and teach our kids in our classrooms to speak out for themselves and stand up for what they want to see change. There should be no reason we are not teaching the next generation to stand up for themselves and stand up for the ones who feel like they can't. We should want to be teaching that sex, gender, color or differences do not make us less.

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