Skip to main content

I Dissent! Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark by Debbie Levy, illustrated by Elizabeth Baddeley

The challenge of writing a biographical picture book is taking your subject, distilling it and finding a starting point and, if you are lucky, a theme. Debbie Levy, the author of I Dissent! Ruth Bader Ginsberg Makes Her Mark does a superb job with all of these points, illustrator Elizabeth Baddeley perfectly capturing the time period of RBG's early life and emphasizing her opinions, passions and struggles with marvelous hand-lettering that is loud and empowering.

Maybe I've been reading more biographies about women who do or have done great things than usual, but I'm feeling a little depressed by the universal fact that women (still) have the hurdle of being born a woman to contend with and overcome before they go on to any other great things (and, more often than not, while they are going on to great things...) Levy begins her book, "Ruth Bader Ginsburg's life has been . . . One disagreement after another. Disagreeable? No. Determined? Yes. This is how Ruth Bader Ginsburg changed her life - and ours." Here Levy makes the subtle point that women often have to disagree with what is presented to them to move around, under or over discrimination, actions that can lead to name calling much worse than "disagreeable." Ruth had a mother who took her to the library, where she found role models in women who did big things.

Ruth took her first stand and protested when she was in elementary school. As a lefty, she was forced to use her right hand and failed her penmanship test. She protested and used her left hand, exhibiting handwriting that was quite nice. Being a rule breaker isn't always hard, but knowing which rules and when to break them is a talent and Ruth had it. She was sensitive to prejudice and unfairness, fuel for her fire.

Ruth lost her mother the day before her high school graduation, but continued on to Cornell University, knowing that this was what her mother wanted. There she met Marty Ginsburg, who inspired her to attend Harvard law school with him where she was one of nine women out of 500 men. By the time she graduated she had three strikes against her: she was a woman, a Jew and a mother. She struggled to find a job. Eventually, she found herself arguing for equal treatment of women before the Supreme Court.

The challenge of I Dissent! Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark is presenting her work as a Supreme Court judge in a way that young readers can grasp and Levy does this briefly and well. The inequality and prejudice that RBG dealt with as a child, young woman and professional is the main focus of Levy's book, but it does all lead organically and integrally to the end and her tenure as a Supreme Court judge. Levy even takes two pages to feature her friendship with Justice Antonin Scalia, a Justice she disagreed with often in court. While this is a unique detail from RBG's life, it also feels very needed and important in a time when there is so much disagreement and friction, to put it nicely, between fellow Americans.

There's no question that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is an inspirational figure to girls, women and anyone discriminated against or subject to injustice. Debbie Levy and Elizabeth Baddeley have created a book that is the prefect first look at this invaluable human being.

Source: Purchased


Popular posts from this blog

POP-UP: Everything You Need to Know to Create Your Own Pop-Up Book, paper engineering by Ruth Wickings, illustrations by Frances Castle RL: All ages

POP-UP:  Everything You Need to Know to Create Your Own Pop-Up Book with paper engineering by Ruth Wickings and illustrations by Frances Castle is THE COOLEST BOOK EVER!!!  I know that I haven't dedicated much time to pop-up books here, but they have always held a special place in my heart, and the phrase "paper engineering" is a favorite of mine. Although I didn't know what it was at the time, I did go through a paper engineering phase when I was ten or so. I would sneak off to the back of the classroom during independent work periods and go to town on the construction paper and glue and make these little free-standing dioramas. A huge fan of The Muppet Show (the original), I reconstructed the all-baby orchestra from an episode, drawing and coloring each baby and his/her instrument then gluing them onto a 3D orchestra section I had crafted out of brown construction paper.  I also made a 3D version of Snidely Whiplash throwing Nell off a cliff with Dudley Do-Right wa…

Made by Dad: 67 Blueprints for Making Cool Stuff - Projects You Can Build For (and With) Kids! by Scott Bedford

On his personal website, Scott Bedforddescribes himself as an "Award Winning Online Creative Professional" working within the advertising and design industry. What is more interesting (and applicable here) is how hisWhat I Made website came to be. While sitting in a Starbucks with his restless young sons, trying to enjoy his latte, Bedford created something out of coffee stir sticks that ended up keeping his boys entertained, finishing his coffee in peace and sparking (re-sparking, really) his creative drive and reminding him of the "enormous joy gained from making things, even simple things, and that this joy is not the complexity or quality of the finished project but in the process of making itself. On Bedford'sWhat I Made website, he even shares Six Cool Coffee Shop Crafts for Kidsthat you can try out next time you want to enjoy your coffee and your kids are making that difficult. I've shared two below - be sure to check out the website and see the rest!


The Seeing Stick, written by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Daniela J Terrazini

The Seeing Stick is an original Chinese fairy tale written by the prolific (and prolifically award winning) Jane Yolen. First published in 1977 with illustrations by Remy Charlip (author and illustrator of the brilliantly fun picture book Fortunately and friend and muse to Brian Selznick, who asked him to pose as George Méliès while he was working on the Caldecott winning The Invention of Hugo CabretThe Seeing Stick was reissued with new illustrations by Daniela J. Terrazini in 2009. I have not seen Charlip's version, but Terrazini's is a beautiful work of art and the book itself is yet another magnificently packaged book published by Running Press, the house that brought us Steven Arntson's The Wikkeling, yet another superbly and uniquely packaged children's book with artwork by Terrazini. Interestingly, both The Wikkeling and The Seeing Stick were designed by Frances J Soo Ping Chow.

The Seeing Stick begins, "Once in the ancient walled citadel of Peking there l…