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Review of Be the Change: A Grandfather Gandhi Story

gandhi_be the changeBe the Change: A Grandfather Gandhi Story
by Arun Gandhi and Bethany 
Hegedus; illus. by Evan Turk
Primary    Atheneum    48 pp.
8/16    978-1-4814-4265-7    $18.99    g
e-book ed.  978-1-4814-4266-4    $10.99

The creators of Grandfather Gandhi (rev. 3/14) here share another episode featuring the groundbreaking civil rights figure. Young Arun Gandhi and his family live “simply and nonviolently” at his grandfather’s service village. Arun’s Bapuji — the leader of India’s nonviolent Independence movement, Mohandas Gandhi — calls their work “Experiments in Truth.” But in a fit of rebellion one day, Arun, restless and “tired of [his] vow not to waste,” tosses a pencil nub away. Bapuji encourages Arun to take responsibility (“A vow is a promise to yourself before it is one to others”) by going to find the discarded pencil, then the two create a “tree of violence” to illustrate how one seemingly small and thoughtless action can lead to discord. As Arun comes to understand the ways in which he can “be the change you wish to see in the world,” the story grows slightly more didactic, and less elegant in the telling. But Turk’s artwork is stunning in composition and color throughout. Using a bold palette of primarily oranges, salmons, purplish-maroons, and sandy grays, Turk provides visual clarity to some pretty heady concepts. For instance, as Arun realizes the error of his ways, Turk presents the boy looking over his shoulder; within the eggplant-hued darkness of Arun’s long shadow Turk shows a chaotic handful of conflicting characters in intentionally messy orange-threaded outlines. As a vehicle for showing the human side of the seminal figure that is Gandhi, this is a valuable title for young readers. A note from the authors and “Be the Change Pledge” are appended.

From the July/August 2016 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

About Sam Bloom

Sam Bloom is a former elementary and middle school teacher. He is currently senior children's librarian at the Blue Ash branch of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County in Ohio.

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