I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark by Debbie Levy, illustrated by Elizabeth Baddeley (InfoSoup)
The life of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is told in this first picture book about her. Ruth grew up in Brooklyn in the 1940s where her mother took her to the library so she could learn. She was taught that girls could do anything they wanted. As a Jewish girl, Ruth knew racism with signs posted that Jews would not be served at specific establishments. Ruth learned that there were limits to what she was sometimes allowed to do, and sometimes she won when she protested and sometimes things stayed the same. She went to college in the 1950s when most women did not attend. She was one of nine women in her law school class of over 500. She went on to become a law professor even though she had a baby daughter at home. She was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1993 and has continued to be a voice for change and equality. She has made a difference in the country by being willing to disagree.
Levy cleverly uses the framework of one disagreement or dissent after another to frame Ginsburg’s life. From her mother originally disagreeing with how girls were meant to be raised to the way that Ginsburg and her husband’s roles in their marriage to the work she has done in courtrooms and the justice system. There is a clarity to the writing that keeps it very readable and Ginsburg is a great figure for children to know better.
Baddeley’s illustrations capture the expectations of the 1940s and 1950s in images and move into 1970s showing that Ginsburg continued to break the rules. There is a merriment to the illustrations that captures Ginsburg spirit and her intelligence as well.
A robust look at an amazing woman’s life, this is one for every library. Appropriate for ages 7-9.
Reviewed from copy received from Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.
Don’t Cross the Line by Isabel Minhós Martins, illustrated by Bernardo Carvalho (InfoSoup)
This very original picture book comes from an award-winning author and illustrator team from the publisher Planeta Tangerina and was first published in Portuguese. The book opens with an armed soldier standing towards the middle of the book surrounded by white space. A small dog enters and starts sniffing around and then a man comes on the page, but when he tries to head across to the right-hand page, the soldier stops him and tells him no one is allowed to go there by order of the general so he can join the story whenever he feels like and have plenty of room. More and more people arrive and the left-hand page gets crowded. Then some boys accidentally bounce their ball across the page and head over to retrieve it with others following along. The general then arrives and threatens to arrest the soldier who allowed them onto the other page. But the people stand up to him, rejoicing together in their new-found freedom to fill both pages.
This book is all about standing up to those in power and peacefully creating change. There is a wonderfully subversive tone to the entire book, winking and laughing at the threat of not being able to cross what is not usually a boundary in a book. Still, there is a real general and a real threat that is disarmed by numbers and action. It is a wonderful book to share when talking about the importance of demonstrating and standing for causes.
Carvalho’s illustrations are a delight. Filled with bright colors that add a wild and festive note to the story, they jump on the page. The end papers are filled with the characters of the book and their names. Looking into the crowd, one can follow each character through the story, from the astronaut who has trouble breathing to the escaping prisoners to the ghost and several animals. It’s a bright and vibrant group of people with large noses and lots of personality.
A great read perfect for our current political climate, this picture book is about peaceful demonstrations and the power of the people. Appropriate for ages 4-6.
Reviewed from copy received from Gecko Press.