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GANDHI by Demi

GANDHI

By Demi (Author) , Demi (Illustrator)

Age Range: 8 - 12

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-689-84149-3
Publisher: McElderry

Demi (The Emperor’s New Clothes, 2000, etc.) emphasizes the self-transforming powers that enabled Gandhi to change from frightened child to English gentleman to tongue-tied lawyer to ultimate servant of mankind with unshakable faith in the force of nonviolence and love. Perhaps because this is an overview, Demi gets the chronology of events right, but is less successful at bringing to life the man who’s widely regarded as one of the most influential of the 20th century and translating his philosophy into a compelling story. There are big themes to tackle: civil rights, the caste system, Satyagraha, Jainism, not to mention the socio-political milieu of turn-of-the century South Africa and colonial India. Though not without dramatic incident, this is of necessity, weighted with philosophy and brief definitions. And Gandhi, as one of the grand electrifying figures on the human stage, might have benefited from more expressive storytelling. In the delicate balancing act necessitated by presenting a “saint,” this veers perilously close to hagiography. Fortunately, the illustrations, though formal in presentation, present Gandhi more dramatically. Executed in Demi’s signature style, many are based on actual photographs. Some, like the Yeravada Jail, in which Gandhi began an important fast, would benefit from captions, and the action presented in others is not always made clear in the text. Lavish and rich in color, detail, and design, though, Demi’s style is both appropriate to the setting and particularly successful in depicting the diminutive Gandhi in his simple white garb symbolically isolated or in a throng. A note expands on Gandhi’s significance, but does little to document the authority of the work. Nevertheless, a heartfelt, handsome, and uplifting treatment for those who already have prior background and interest. (Biography. 8-12)