McGinty’s gentle, poetic picture book, awash with sunrises, salt, sand and sensory images, tells an intense present-tense story of Mohandas Gandhi’s 24-day march to the sea in 1930 in search of freedom and peaceful change for the people of India.
The bespectacled, contemplative face of Gandhi that appears on the front cover of the book sets the mood for the story, emphasizing his determination. His goal is to challenge 200 years of British rule by breaking the law prohibiting Indians from collecting salt from the sea. His march changes more than just the attitudes of the British. Gandhi sometimes walks alone and at other times leads throngs of people from a variety of castes. When he reaches out to the untouchables and even washes in their well water, “[d]isgust and fear / brew like storms / in the villagers’ watching eyes.” Remaining undeterred and true to his faith, Gandhi marches on. Gonzalez’s rich mixed-media illustrations shift perspectives often to focus on the important elements in each scene: Bare feet and dirty white trousers hint at the difficulty of the journey; faceless crowds that melt into the horizon suggest the size of Gandhi’s following. An imperfect marriage of text and illustrations sometimes creates confusion more than clarity, as when elaborately dressed female dancers suddenly appear on the road with the walkers. Despite this, the book tells a story worth remembering.
This walk with Gandhi is time well-spent. (Picture book. 6-12)