Review: Grandfather Gandhi by Arun Gandhi

grandfather gandhi

Grandfather Gandhi by Arun Gandhi and Bethany Hegedus, illustrated by Evan Turk

When Arun went to stay at his grandfather Mahatma Gandhi’s village, he worried that he would not be able to live up to his famous name.  Arun walked all the way from the station to the village and made his grandfather proud, but he continued to fret that he would not do the right thing the next time.  The village was very different from where he lived before.  Arun had to share his grandfather’s attention with 350 followers who lived there as well.  Arun struggled with his studies and the other kids teased him as well.  He found the meditation and prayers difficult too.  His grandfather urged him to give it time, that peace would come.  However, Arun just found it more and more frustrating.  When Arun finally lost his temper with another boy, he had to tell his grandfather about it, worried that he would be told that he would never live up to his name.  How will Mahatma Gandhi react to this angry young man?

Gandhi relates his own memories of his grandfather, offering his honest young reactions to this amazing yet also formidable man.  The book resulted from Arun recounting childhood stories aloud.  Hegedus emailed him afterwards and asked to work on a book with him, though she felt very unworthy of such a project.  The book is beautifully written and speaks to everyone who has felt that electric anger surge through them too.  Hegedus sets the stage very nicely for the lesson, allowing time for Arun’s anger to build even as she shows the lifestyle of the village and Mahatma Gandhi himself.  It is a book that is crafted for the most impact, building to that moment of truth.

Turk’s illustrations add much to the book.  Using mixed media, he offers oranges, purples, deep pinks and more that show the heat not only of the climate but of Arun’s anger.  Throughout, he also uses fabrics for the clothing, creating three-dimensional depth to the paintings.  When Arun’s emotions flare, the illustrations show that with tangles of black thread that all bring readers back to the image of Gandhi spinning neat white thread.  The contrast is subtle and profound.

Personal and noteworthy, this is a picture book about Gandhi that is entirely unique and special.  Appropriate for ages 5-8.

Reviewed from library copy.

2014 Booktrust Best Book Shortlist

booktrust award logo

Booktrust has announced the short list for their Best Book Awards, a new UK prize in children’s literature.  There are five age categories as well as a sixth category for best tech book.  The winners are selected by public votes from children.  Here are the shortlisted titles:



Do Not Enter The Monster Zoo Peck, Peck, Peck

Do Not Enter the Monster Zoo by Amy Sparkes, illustrated by Sarah Ogilvie

Peck Peck Peck by Lucy Cousins

The Snatchabook The Storm Whale

The Snatchabook by Helen Docherty, illustrated by Thomas Docherty

The Storm Whale by Benji Davies


BEST STORY (Ages 6-8)

The Great Galloon (The Great Galloon, #1) Oliver and the Seawigs Penny Dreadful Is a Record Breaker Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made

The Great Galloon by Tom Banks

Oliver and the Seawigs by Philip Reeve, illustrated by Sarah McIntyre

Penny Dreadful Is a Record Breaker by Joanna Nadin, illustrated by Jessica Mikhail

Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made by Stephen Pastis


BEST STORY (Ages 9-11)

Hard Luck (Diary of a Wimpy Kid, #8) The Jade Boy The Screaming Staircase (Lockwood & Co., #1) The Mysterious Misadventures of Clemency Wrigglesworth

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Hard Luck by Jeff Kinney

The Jade Boy by Cate Cain

Lockwood and Co: The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud

The Mysterious Misadventures of Clemency Wrigglesworth by Julia Lee


BEST FACT (Ages 9-11)

Not For Parents How to be a Dinosaur Hunter (Lonely Planet Children's Publishing) Operation Ouch!: Your Brilliant Body 

Not for Parents: How to Be a Dinosaur Hunter by Scott Forbes, illustrated by James Gulliver Hancock

Operation Ouch!: Your Brilliant Body by Dr. Chris van Tulleken and Dr. Xand van Tulleken

The Romans: Gods, Emperors, and Dormice Space in 30 Seconds: 30 Super-Stellar Subjects For Cosmic Kids Explained in Half a Minute (Children's 30 Second)

The Romans: Gods Emperors and Dormice by Marcia Williams

Space in 30 Seconds by Clive Gifford, illustrated by Melvyn Evans


BEST STORY (Ages 12-14)

Dead Romantic The Fault in Our Stars Heroic You Don't Know Me

Dead Romantic by C J Skuse

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Heroic by Phil Earle

You Don’t Know Me by Sophia Bennett


BEST TECH (Ages 0-14)

Axel Scheffler’s Flip-Flap Farm by Axel Scheffler

Little Red Riding Hood illustrated by Ed Bryan

Signed Stories: The Lark in the Ark by Peter Bently, illustrated by Lynne Chapman

The Slightly Annoying Elephant by David Walliams, illustrated by Tony Ross