Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson tells the story of how his grandfather taught him to turn darkness into light in this uniquely personal and vibrantly illustrated tale that carries a message of peace.
How could he—a Gandhi—be so easy to anger?
One thick, hot day, Arun Gandhi travels with his family to Grandfather Gandhi’s village.
Silence fills the air—but peace feels far away for young Arun. When an older boy pushes him on the soccer field, his anger fills him in a way that surely a true Gandhi could never imagine. Can Arun ever live up to the Mahatma? Will he ever make his grandfather proud?
In this remarkable personal story, Arun Gandhi, with Bethany Hegedus, weaves a stunning portrait of the extraordinary man who taught him to live his life as light. Evan Turk brings the text to breathtaking life with his unique three-dimensional collage paintings.
- Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
Gandhi’s grandson recalls his family’s time in his Bapu’s village when he was a young boy. He feels deeply responsible for living up to his famous grandfather’s name and reputation while fitting into the work routine of the village. There is no electricity and no playing games except soccer. He finally gets some time alone with his grandfather to tell him that he is teased and not doing well in his studies. Gandhi tells him it will take time. Arun almost loses his temper when shoved at soccer, then ashamed, he runs to his grandfather. But he is reassured and told how anger can be used to illuminate. From then on, “I did my best to live my life as light.” The striking illustrations are rendered in watercolor, paper collage, cotton fabric, cotton, yarn, gouache, pencil, tea, and tinfoil. Across double pages the village and its inhabitants come to life, expressionistically rather than representationally. Arun’s anger is shown in black lines; white triangles show it transformed into light. A note adds information; Gandhi’s well-known spinning wheels fill the end pages. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz; Ages 4 to 8.
School Library Journal
Gr 1–3—Mahatma Gandhi, as seen through the eyes of one his grandsons, is depicted in this picture-book biography as a loving grandfather and a revered figure. Twelve-year-old Arun and his family have come to live in his bapu's "service village," which is a great honor, but is also hard for young Arun, who must share his grandfather with so many others demanding his time and attention. The boy frets over the difficulty of living up to the expectations that carrying the name Gandhi entails, and when a disagreement during a soccer game sparks his anger, Arun seeks out his wise and loving grandfather for comfort and advice. This is less a biography of a famous leader and more of an ode to a great man by an adoring grandson. While background details are left intentionally vague, i.e., the family's reasons for moving to India, memories of Gandhi himself are sharp and specific, lending an air of intimacy. The accompanying artwork is stunning, the use of mixed media collage is effective and beautiful, with varying perspectives and intriguing materials on display on every page. With so many biographies about Gandhi published recently, this one stands out for its unique point of view and gorgeous art, and makes a fine supplement to any collection.—Jody Kopple, Shady Hill School, Cambridge, MA
More than 10 years in the writing, this true story by Gandhi’s grandson and Hegedus (Truth with a Capital T) gives a personal window inside the peacemaker’s teachings. As a 12-year-old, Arun and his family come to live at an ashram where Gandhi resides with followers. Vibrant, mixed-media collages from debut talent Turk depict the boy’s first frustrating weeks there. A tangle of black yarn swirls around Arun, the threads creating a proverbial black cloud, as he struggles to learn a new language, share his grandfather with others, and even feel like a Gandhi: “peace and stillness did not come easily to me.” When Arun’s temper flares, he runs tearfully to Gandhi, who compares anger to electricity: destructive as lightning or a force channeled to power lamps. “Then anger can illuminate. It can turn the darkness into light.” Turk’s illustrations are stylized, strikingly patterned, and rendered in contrasting purples and golds, blues and creams, blacks and whites, highlighting the tension between anger and peace. Dynamic visuals and storytelling create a rousing family story that speaks to a broad audience. Ages 4–8. Authors’ agent: Regina Brooks, Serendipity Literary Agency. (Mar.)
December 2013 Booklist
"Collaborating with first-time picture-book author Hegedus, Arun Gandhi recalls his own childhood experiences, relating the stories in an immediate first-person voice. Working in mixed media, with pieces of fabric clothing and hand-cut, hand-painted figures, Turk mixes carefully detailed renderings with abstracted expressions of emotional struggle, achieving a powerful balance. A personal portrait of a legendary figure."
This first-person account presents Mohandas Gandhi through the eyes of his then–12-year-old grandson. Arriving at Sevagram, the ashram Gandhi lived in as an old man, young Arun and his family greet their famous relative and start participating in the simple lifestyle of morning prayers, chores and pumpkin mush. It is challenging for the boy, who misses electricity and movies and dreads language lessons. The crux of the story hinges on the moment Arun is tripped and injured during a soccer game. He picks up a rock and feels the weight of familial expectations. Running to his grandfather, he learns the surprising fact that Gandhi gets angry too. Grandfather lovingly explains that anger is like electricity: it "can strike, like lightning, and split a living tree in two…. Or it can be channeled, transformed….Then anger can illuminate. It can turn the darkness into light." Turk's complex collages, rich in symbolic meaning and bold, expressive imagery, contribute greatly to the emotional worldbuilding. Watercolor, gouache and cut paper set the scenes, while fabric clothes the primary players. Gandhi's spinning wheel is a repeated motif; tangled yarn surrounding Arun signals frustration. Never burdened by its message, this exceptional title works on multiple levels; it is both a striking introduction to a singular icon and a compelling story about the universal experience of a child seeking approval from a revered adult. (authors' note) (Picture book/memoir. 4-8)
Arun Gandhi, born in 1934, is the fifth grandson of Mohandas K. Gandhi, also known as Mahatma Gandhi. A journalist for more than thirty years for The India Times, Arun now writes a blog for The Washington Post. Arun serves as President of the Gandhi Worldwide Education Institute and travels the world speaking to governmental leaders, as well as to university and high school students alike, about the practices of peace and nonviolence. He lives in Rochester, New York.
Bethany Hegedus is the author of Between Us Baxters and Truth with a Capital T. She owns The Writing Barn, a writing workshop and retreat center in Austin, Texas, with her husband Vivek Bakshi. She teaches widely and speaks across the country. Grandfather Gandhi is her first picture book.
Evan Turk is an author, illustrator, and animator working in New York City. He is originally from Colorado, and loves being in nature, traveling, and learning about other cultures through drawing. He is a graduate of Parsons and continues his studies as a member of Dalvero Academy. Grandfather Gandhi is his first picture book.