Children's Literature - Debbie LevyThis biography begins with a confusing reference when it describes Roberts being sworn in as a justice of the Supreme Court in July 2005, as a "vibrant young lawyer with kind eyes." We adults may like to think that 50 is the new 30, but that does not make a 50-year-old a "young" manespecially to young readers. The second half of that descriptionRoberts' "kind eyes"indicates the general tone of what follows in this account of the life of the current chief justice of the United States. It is an entirely favorable, very personal story, which is appealing but not all that enlightening about Roberts as a justice (or as judge or lawyer before that). In the pages devoted to Roberts' role as the chief justice, for example, there is almost no information about the ways in which the chief is first among equals vis-a-vis his fellow justices. No mention is made of the chief justice's traditional powers to preside over oral arguments and the justices' private conferences, and to write or assign to another justice the court's opinions in cases where he votes in the majority. These powers invest Roberts' position with a good deal more weight than a reader gleans from this pleasant biography. McElroy writes that a "typical day in the chief justice's chambers is very busy," but the description that follows actually makes the job seem like a piece of cake. Part of the "Gateway Biography" series, this treatment of the nation's top judicial officer is most suited for the youngest middle-grade readers.
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