One Day in August written by Bharati Jagannathan and illustrated by Prashant Soni, published by Pratham Books is a wonderful story about two children – Shagufta and Kishen and their friendship in the backdrop of Indian Independence in 1947 and the accompanying partition with it.
Kishen is a seven year old and Shagufta is an eight year old and they have always been friends since childhood. One evening both of them are searching for Kishen’s cow Moti who is not there at his usual place. While the two are joking around with each other, they start to get a bit worried about Moti’s whereabouts. Their search takes them to a different village which they have not seen till date, as they have never ventured so far. They see people packing their belongings and ready to go somewhere. They are not in a very happy frame of mind and are awkwardly balancing their belongings and sobbing and leaving. When Shagufta asks them the whereabouts of Moti, they say they have lost everything and that they were being pushed out of their village, so why would they bother about a cow! Shagufta learns they are Muslims and they are leaving India and going. When Shagufta reveals she is a Muslim as well, they tell her that she may not be around for long. Kishen and Shagufta return home without Moti and tell their parents about what happened. Do they find Moti? Why are Kishen and Shagufta so upset? Why is Shagufta’s brother Javed so agitated?
Bharati Jagannathan takes up the important issue of partition and talks it in a very gentle manner to children to make it age appropriate. I had goosebumps as I read the book especially the part when Shagufta’s brother Javed is fighting with their father about leaving the country and her father’s response. I usually never read books which deal with partition because I can’t bear to read about people’s grief of leaving their lives and moving to a different country just because of their religion. But I loved the way the author has dealt with the issue of partition. This is what our history books should be made up of. We should teach our children our history in this positive manner. I loved the way the story ended, giving us hope and leaving bits and pieces to our imagination.
Prashant Soni illustrates the book in a superb manner. Using earthy colours, without attracting too much attention away from the story, the illustrations lend a beautiful hand in making the story even more realistic. He seems to have used just pencil/charcoal in designing his pictures and they make that era of 1947 come alive!
Definitely recommended for school libraries to teach a small bit of history to kids in a positive manner and a super addition to any home collection of books 🙂
Image credits: Team IMC
Editor’s Note: This book was sent to IMC by Pratham Books for the Book Week 2015 celebrations. IMC did not receive any remuneration for the same.