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Justice Sotomayor writing book on kids with ‘challenges’

June 8, 2018

FILE - In this Sept. 21, 2017, file photo, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor speaks the Newseum in Washington. Sotomayor is working on a book about kids with “life challenges,” such as attention deficit disorder, autism, blindness and diabetes. She talked about the book on June 8, 2018, during an appearance in Washington. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor spoke Friday about a book she’s working on about kids with “life challenges,” such as attention deficit disorder, autism, blindness and diabetes.

Sotomayor, who was diagnosed with diabetes as a child, she said she wanted to write a book about “all of the common challenges, some visible and not so visible, that kids grow up in the world experiencing.” Sotomayor talked about the book, which is expected to be released in 2019, during an appearance in Washington.

“I wanted a children’s book that would explain some of those challenges, some of the frustrations, some of the difficulties in dealing with such conditions,” she said, adding she also wanted to talk about the strength they lead to.

Sotomayor said her book is set in a garden and is about “a bunch of us kids working on creating the beauty of a garden.”

“Some plants require more water, some more sun. Others do great in the shade, some don’t,” Sotomayor said, explaining that the book uses the garden as a metaphor to try to get children to “understand that we build this world together and they should participate in understanding” each other.

The book is one of three by Sotomayor announced in November. The first two books, due out in the fall, include a version of Sotomayor’s best-selling 2013 memoir, “My Beloved World,” adapted for middle-graders. The other book, “Turning Pages,” is a picture-book autobiography about the books that inspired her.

She said that when the publisher approached her about another children’s book, “I told them on one condition: that you accept a book that’s totally my idea, and they did,” she said of the book due out in 2019. She did not give its title.

Sotomayor spoke at the liberal American Constitution Society’s national convention and answered questions from Berkeley Law professor Melissa Murray, a former clerk. The justice was wearing a sling following shoulder replacement surgery about a month ago. She told Murray she injured herself when she tripped over a piece of furniture.

Sotomayor, 63, said she’s “healing exceedingly well” but sleeping is a different story. Because lying down is painful, she’s sleeping in a rented recliner, she said, adding, “I’m a little bit tired most of the time.”

Sotomayor said her surgery also meant she couldn’t take a planned May trip to Puerto Rico, a trip that would have been her first to the island since it was devastated by Hurricane Maria in September. Sotomayor has family on the island and said most of her relatives, over time, got water and electricity back — but only last month did the last of her relatives get both. “The challenges are great,” she said, mentioning rolling blackouts and limited supplies.

Sotomayor was also asked about her newest colleague, Justice Neil Gorsuch, who joined the court a little over a year ago. Sotomayor said it takes time to get to know any new member of the court, from priorities to their sense of humor.

She said that on the first day Gorsuch joined his colleagues for a private conference, he made a joke. Sotomayor said she realized he was joking but could see on her colleagues’ faces that it wasn’t “humor that we were accustomed to.”

“Things fall less flat now,” she said.

Sotomayor spoke during a busy time for the justices. They have finished hearing arguments for the court’s current term and are working to finish and release opinions in the 25 remaining cases before breaking for the summer at the end of June.

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Follow Jessica Gresko on Twitter at http://twitter.com/jessicagresko

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