I have a little soft spot for a sassy, Jewish-German doctor by the name of Dr. Ruth Westheimer. The fact that she was a bit controversial at the time (gasp! She’s talking about S-E-X!) flew over my head. But when a customer ordered two different books by Westheimer, I was interested. These were children’s books. What could she talk about? The first, was a picture book that I never looked at (Crocodile, You’re Beautiful! Embracing Our Strengths and Ourselves), but quickly skimmed Roller Coaster Grandma: The Amazing Story of Dr. Ruth (written with Pierre Lehu).
It is not about sex (which, to be honest, I was a bit relieved about. After all been there, done that, didn’t get the t-shirt) but a story about overcoming fears, learning patience and keep trying no matter what. Dr. Ruth uses her own history/her story to show her two grandchildren these things (how she had to leave her family as a child, her father’s arrest, giving up her doll to a little girl who needed it more than she did, living in Israel and so much more). And does it in a sweet, not a lot of action, graphic novel, kind of way. By not a lot of action the flashbacks have action (her time in the military and as a sniper), but not necessarily “on the edge of your seat adventure.”
And the illustrations of Mark Simmons illustrate all that. In old school graphic novel style art for kids, the art is detailed and colorful without being overpowering. The story line is mostly dialogue between the grandchildren and Dr. Ruth, but other people show up as well. The backdrop of an amusement park might seem an odd choice at first but does fit the theme well.