"Beate was just 22, the only woman in a room of lawyers and officers. She asked herself, “What do I know about constitutions?” Determined to learn, she scoured Tokyo for useful books. A few libraries had survived, battered guardians of hope to help people turn from war to peace."
Historical, multicultural, and beautifully illustrated (by Shiella Witanto) No Steps Behind is the unlikely story of Beate Sirota Gordon, just a girl when her Russian-Austrian-Jewish family found refuge in 1930s Japan. Beate became fluent in Japanese, loved the nation’s culture and people, but hated its treatment of women and proverbs like “Women walk three steps behind.” After World War II, putting her language and cultural skills to use, she returned to Japan and fought for equal rights for women to be enshrined in the post-war Japanese post-war constitution.  Though she won that battle, and remains a Japanese national hero, she is little known outside that country.


About Jewish Kidlit


No Steps Behind

"Gottesfeld's compelling telling is supplemented by comprehensive notes. Witanto's illustrations richly render the story."             
―Publishers Weekly 

“It is a rare treat for a Supreme Court Justice to get to meet the framer of a constitution. Beate helped teach me how to live fully in two cultures and make both my home.”   – Justice Sonia Sotomayor

"Her Majesty values the important role Ms. Gordon played, in spite of her young age then, to ensure equal rights for women in post-war Japan. Her Majesty believes that Ms. Gordon's endeavor will be long remembered by many in Japan."
                                                                                        – Grand Chamberlain of the Imperial Household on behalf of Empress Michiko