I'm going to be upfront here: this book made me cry. As a woman, mother to a daughter, and formerly outspoken little girl in a time and place where "feminism" was was an anachronistic term for bra-burning rather than the badge of pride and call to action it is today, this book made me grateful and proud. I was already an RBG fan – it's pretty hard not to be – but I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark hammered home all of the reasons why it's easy to admire the influential Supreme Court Justice through a beautiful, illustrated biography that stresses the importance of standing up for what's right.
Debbie Levy frames RBG's story with objections, beginning with her mother, Celia Amster Bader, who sets the tone for the book and for her daughter's trajectory by encouraging little Ruth to strive for more in life than finding a husband. "Ruth's mother disagreed," is the first of many hand-lettered, marquee-like pronouncements that tie together Levy's text and Elizabeth Baddeley's visual storytelling. This bold dissention ("Then she protested." "She resisted. And persisted." "Ruth really, really disagreed with this!") in the face of prejudice and sexism allows readers to feel the weight of injustice and the power of speaking up as they straighten their shoulders, square their feet, and shout with Ruth, "I dissent!"
I learned a lot through this book. Who knew that RBG and Antonin Scalia were friends? Or that Justice Ginsburg's mother was such a driving force in her life? There is also a section for further reading after the story ends, including photos of RBG, information on cases referenced in the story, and a selected bibliography, which serves as a great resource for curious readers who want to learn more.
I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark
by Debbie Levy (author) and Elizabeth Baddeley (illustrator)
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
2016, 40 pages, 8.5 x 11 x 0.6 inches (hardcover)