mix with the crowd,
watching every move.
Will Gandhi be arrested?
Will the marchers go to jail?
Are there machine guns
stationed down the road?"
"Be the change you want to see in the world."
An apt quote from an honorable man who led by example, and persuaded his followers to believe that nonviolence could bring great change. The heart of this picture book biography is centered on 1930, and Gandhi's 24 day March to the Sea. He was joined by more than 70 marchers in a protest against British rule, and the taxes that had been levied on salt.
The marchers were united in their cause, despite their cultural and religious differences. They believed that it was wrong to prevent them from taking salt from the sea, and for levying taxes on the salt they were forced to buy. Gandhi was determined that the protest would be peaceful, and that it's effect would be lasting.
Alice McGinty encourages her readers to look at the leadership of a great man who wanted his followers to know that peace is the goal we all must seek. In acting non-violently for your beliefs you show others that you are willing to stand up and be counted, despite the consequences. Many of those who took part in the March were imprisoned; their numbers overwhelmed the penal system and they were soon released.
The author uses free verse to create images that speak honestly and with clarity. The images created with her words are illustrated with brilliance by Thomas Gonzalez. He captures the quiet dignity of Gandhi as he leads his people the many miles to the sea. He constantly shifts our focus in his luminous mixed media art (pastels, watercolors, color pencils, and ink) to bring attention to the feet, the heat, the enormous crowds, the endless fatigue. We see the joy in the eyes of those who sing Gandhi's praises, who believe in his cause, and who are willing to take the risks that must be taken to ensure freedom from oppression:
"Every law broken, every stride,
every garment spun,
every Indian who joins the fight:
One more step toward freedom."
This is an incredible addition to a growing list of picture book biographies that shows young readers that one person can make a difference, and help to change the world for the better.