Be the Change: A Grandfather Gandhi Story
At Grandfather Gandhi’s service village, each day is filled, from sunrise to sunset, with work that is done for the good of all. The villagers vow to live simply and non-violently. Arun Gandhi tries very hard to follow these vows, but he struggles with one of the most important rules: not to waste.
How can throwing away a worn-down pencil hurt anyone? How can wastefulness lead to violence? With the help of his grandfather, Arun learns how every wasteful act, no matter how small, affects others. And in time he comes to understand the truth of his grandfather’s words: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”
Arun Gandhi dedicates this book to "the children of the world in the hope that they will, through personal change, be the catalyst to steer the world on the path to sanity." Amidst death and destruction that today's children have come to know as commonplace, this book feels that much more important.
We get to know the "Great Soul," Mahatma Gandhi, through the eyes of his grandson, Arun. Children may feel at the same place as Arun when this book begins; not understanding the importance of non-violence and vows against preventing waste. But through the teachings Arun overhears and the lesson he learns with the nub of a pencil and a violence tree, children will see that everything we do has consequences, and so, if they strive to be better than most people within our world, maybe they can be the change.
The illustrations within this book are lush and intriguing, forming what appears to be paper art that gives each page a breath of life. There is the repeating image of one thing leading to another through images and Gandhi's speeches, etc. and this contributes to the idea that everything has a cause and effect.
Upon looking for the pencil he selfishly threw away for being too small, Arun is sent out into the night to find it. Here the pages turn a bit darker, thus ensuring readers understand that Arun is still in the dark about why he needs to do certain things. Even after he returns, there is a full page of his saddened face, patterned with what appears to be clouds in a storm-filled sky, connecting to the storm raging with Arun himself.
The page with the monsoon, which begins to enlighten Arun is beautiful, raindrops appear to be stitched into the page, done all in sepia, except for a bright umbrella protecting them from the storm. The umbrella seems to be like Grandpa Gandhi protecting their world, shining brighter.
The violence tree uses the same image of cause and effect and is presented beautifully, if rather complicated. This works well to present this notion of everything having a purpose, and a consequence, thus grounding the idea that children can be the change.
The end of the book shares both a beautiful philosophy and bright illustrations sure to enlighten both children and adults. In a world that seems content with violence, this book feels so important. And at the end there is a chance for little ones to take their own "Be the Change Pledge" plus a website for additional resources and tools. Such extras will continue to bring the teachings of Grandpa Gandhi off the page and into the world.