Grandfather Gandhi

Grandfather GandhiGrandfather Gandhi
A Picture Book for All Ages
By Arun Gandhi, Bethany Hegedus
Illustrated by Evan Turk
Published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Hardcover, eBook

Locate a copy at Book People | IndieBound
Amazon | B&N | Local Library

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.

New Illustrator Honor, Ezra Jack Keats Foundation
Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People 2015
Notable Books for a Global Society 2015
Kirkus Reviews Best Books of 2014
2015 Texas Bluebonnet List
The New York Public Library 100 Books for Reading and Sharing
The 2014 Non Fiction Picture Book Nerdy Award Winner
Chicago Public Library’s Best Informational Books for Younger Readers of 2014
Huffington Post’s “Best Picture Books of 2014” Honorable Mention

“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.” —Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

star“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.”  —Kirkus Review, Starred Review

“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.”

“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…an ode to a great man by an adoring grandson…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.” – School Library Journal 

“Unusual for its child-centered and intimate portrait of Gandhi (we learn, for example, that he smelled like peanut oil), the graceful narrative is nearly outdone by the vivid mixed-media illustrations, rendered in watercolor, paper collage, cotton fabric, cotton, yarn, gouache, pencil, tea, and tinfoil. The cotton yarn, handspun on an Indian book charkha, gives the pictures such a three-dimensional look that one feels as though it could be plucked right off Gandhi’s spinning wheel. But it’s more than just an attractive effect–the yarn becomes a visual metaphor for anger channeled into light.” —Horn Book Magazine

“… personal story about discovering the light that exists in all of us” —Austin Monthly


Grandfather Gandhi Illustration © Evan Turk

Grandfather Gandhi Illustration © Evan Turk


  1. I would love to read accounts by children who read this book or to whom this book was read and the effect the teachings conveyed impacted kids lives in the world we live in today. Brilliant book… fantastic imaginative,
    creative approach to channeling anger into positive energy… a most difficult
    task for kids in particular. Have the techniques and instructions
    presented in this book been pilot tested in a classroom setting and if so,
    what were the outcomes? Thank you. D. S.

    • Diane, we are also seeking news of how educators and children are engaging with these lessons. You can see many of the tools that educators have created for that purpose here:


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