Gandhi: A March to the Sea. Written by Alice B. McGinty. Illustrated by Thomas Gonzalez. Two Lions (an imprint of Amazon Children’s Publishing), 2013. 42 pages. Publisher recommends for ages 8 and over. ISBN: 9781477816448.
On the first page of this book, we learn that Gandhi thought using violence to solve problems was wrong. We also learns that Gandhi thought British rule of India was wrong. Among other things, the British made it illegal for Indians to use seawater to make salt. The British also placed a tax on the salt they sold Indians, so the Indians were paying a premium for something that, but for the British law, they could have for free. In 1930 Gandhi began a march to the sea to break the British law and make salt.
“Gandhi: A March to the Sea” walks along with Gandhi on his 24 day, 240 mile walk to the sea to make salt. Sometimes people walk with him, sometimes he appears to walk alone. When he arrives in a village, he seeks out the Untouchables, the lowest people in the Hindu caste system. He wants to make it clear that all Indians, Hindu, Muslim and even Hindu Untouchables must work together if they are to accomplish their goal of independence from Britain. And they must work in a nonviolent way.
The illustrations in this book add a great deal to the words. Gandhi is shown in every spread. Sometimes we see his face, with eyes almost unbearably gentle and thoughtful. Sometimes we see his back, as in the spread where he is talking with a number of villagers. Sometimes we see his legs as he walks. The skies in each spread are also beautiful. At the end of the book, there’s a spread in which Gandhi is much larger than life talking with villagers. I suspect Gandhi himself would shrink away from this view. Throughout the rest of the book, we have seen Gandhi as a humble man.
The last two pages of the book give a background of the Salt March and the subsequent 17 year long quest for freedom from Britain.
Although this book touches on only one incident in Gandhi’s life, it gives a sense of how he approached civil disobedience, nonviolence, and inclusiveness. In this way, it is as thorough as a biography.
This week Nonfiction Monday is hosted by Ms. Yingling Reads.