I Dissent – Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark Written by Debbie Levy and Illustrated by Elizabeth Baddeley

I received a review copy from the publisher. No other compensation was received.

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While I Dissent may look a biography picture book about the Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to any adult passing by, it apparently sends out a secret signal to children that it is actually a superhero book.  Don’t feel bad if you miss the signal.  It’s on a very unique and subtle frequency.   There are no lasers, no Star Wars, no Minecraft anything, no construction vehicles, no robots, no dragons, no Legos, no dinosaurs, no magic hats, no capes, and no spaceships — and yet, my six-year-old son saw the book on the table and immediately asked me to read it to him.  So, I have to assume that he can, as a child, spot this book for what it is:  A picture book about a real-life superhero.

I about fell over in shock when he asked for me to read it to him.  I was absolutely sure this was going to be a book that I would have to cajole him into reading with me – and here he was asking me to read it to him.  Don’t get me wrong, everything about this book is excellent. Everything about it made me want to read it right away. The book is wonderful and one of the best biography picture books I’ve ever read, and I am completely thrilled that there is a picture book about Justice Ginsburg for children. I am sure it will be a contender for many awards both for its writing and illustrations and many will be hugely disappointed if it doesn’t…

But it just didn’t strike me as a book my six-year-old son would love.  I mean, seriously, not a single spaceship anywhere in the book! I am so glad I was wrong.

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Text copyright © 2016 Debbie Levy and Illustrations copyright © 2016 by Elizabeth Baddeley. Used with permission from Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing.

When we sat down to read I Dissent, I was very surprised and pleased how my son took this story on.  He imitated Justice Ginsburg saying, “I Dissent!”  He out and out cheered her for protesting. He got serious when I read the phrase, “Girls were expected to find husbands.”  And gave a gasping, “That’s wrong!” when we came to a section about how Justice Ginsburg, as a young girl, saw signs that said, “No Dogs or Jews Allowed!”  I asked him how he would feel if he saw a sign that said, “No boys allowed!” and he didn’t like that one bit.  He liked how she protested, and he really loved how she’s portrayed at being bad at things like sewing, cooking, and singing.  He cheerfully said, “I’m bad at a lot of things, too!” (Insert face palm here.)

From the very first page, the illustrations and the tone kept us all engaged and interested and we just had to know what would happen next. How would our heroine prevail?  The elegant and majestically large comic book lettering along with how the story is expertly and dramatically written — gives it a perfect super hero feel.  You’ll find yourself reading it with the same pacing and grandiosity as an action-packed comic book.

My son got quiet when we read about her mother dying and he smiled and acted all goofy when the story talked about her falling in love with her husband, Marty.  He loved when she succeeded and really didn’t like the quote, “Woman has always been dependent upon man.”

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Text copyright © 2016 Debbie Levy and Illustrations copyright © 2016 by Elizabeth Baddeley. Used with permission from Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing.

He loved that she wears different collars in court for when she is on the side that gets the most votes and the side that doesn’t.  When we read it with my husband, my son very seriously said, “She wears different collars when she agrees and disagrees.”

As the book ended, with Justice Ginsburg heroically holding the scales of justice and the wind is blowing in her hair and around her robe, by son slumped down and said, “What a great woman!”

He then asked me to read every word of the “More About Ruth Bader Ginsburg” section in the back that gives more details about her life and work.  At the end — I promise you this absolutely true — he pointed to a picture of her as a young woman and said, “I want to marry a woman like her!”  (And I’m not so sure how to respond to that. He shouldn’t look at a woman as someone to marry, he should look at her as a person and what kind of human she is.  I’ll have to work on it.)

Then he proceeded to tell me that he thinks I should become a judge.  We had a long discussion about the process (law school, and clerkship, and appointments, etc.) — but I truly appreciated how he was suddenly asking me questions and really listening to me about my job and the things I like to do.  “What did you do before I was born?”  “What would you like to be when you grow up?”  It blew me away.

Everyone needs to read I Dissent.  It’s a fantastic book in every way.

Recommended Ages 4 to 8. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. Septmber 2016. 40 pages. ISBN: 978-1481465595. Biography.

Where to Get it:

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Where Obtained:  I received a review copy from the publisher. No other compensation was received.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

FTC Disclosures:  Some of the links in the post above are Amazon affiliate links and others are IndieBound affiliate links. If you click on the link and purchase something, I will receive an affiliate commission at no additional cost to you. Which goes to fund my family’s picture book habit.  It’s a vicious cycle, but we manage.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

2 comments

    • It is my pleasure! The whole experience was so surprising. He’s at that age where he’s trying to figure out the differences between men and women — so he’s made some crazy conclusions. I really like how this set him up to ask some great questions and rethink some of his own conclusions. Yay for picture books! Yay for RBG!

      Liked by 1 person

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