Books Contours of Love Early Readers Features Genre Lifespan of a Reader Non-fiction Wednesday Nonfiction Picture Books Reading Themes

[Nonfiction Wednesday] Love That Has Literally Moved Mountains in “Manjhi Moves A Mountain”

Manjhi Moves A Mountain by Nancy Churnin and Illustrated by Danny Popovici

Myra here.

We are delighted to join the Nonfiction Picture Book meme 2018 hosted by Alyson Beecher @ Kid Lit Frenzy. We would also be linking our nonfiction choices with our reading themes throughout the year, when we can.

I borrowed this picturebook from our NIE Library. I like how it is perfect for our current reading theme as it shows just how powerful love can be – it can literally move mountains.

Manjhi Moves A Mountain

Written by Nancy Churnin Illustrated by Danny Popovici
Published by Creston Books (2017)
ISBN-10: 1939547342
ISBN-13: 9781939547347
Borrowed from the NIE Library. Book photos taken by me.

One of the statements that I don’t like hearing is: “It can’t be done.” Too often, people hold assumptions (most of them unfounded) on what can or cannot be done. I fear that if we are ruled by the latter, we might as well stay at home wrapped in inertia as we simply go through the motions of what-counts-for-living. I personally just rush headlong into an initiative, a project, a worthy cause that I find to be especially meaningful – and work out the details later. This kind of vision is possibly one of the reasons why this particular picturebook resonated with me.

Based on the real life story of Dashrath Manjhi born in 1934 in Bihar, India – it showed how Manjhi (also known across India as the Mountain Man) was determined to cut a road through a mountain that blocked Gehlaur (his poor village on the left as seen in the image above ) and Wazirganj – a more progressive village that had running water, doctors, schools, opportunities.

The story showed Manjhi’s tenacity through the years – from when he was a young man (shown in the image above) to the old man that he eventually became (as seen in the image below): a tribute to his tenacity, grit, and single-minded pursuit to do right by his village.

However, it was only when I read the Author’s Note in the end where I was more deeply moved by the story – as it revealed his motivation why he was chipping that mountain away, one stone at a time, all throughout his life:

Manjhi began his task for his wife, Falguni Devi, who died in 1959, supporting his dream. For some, the story of Manjhi’s parting of the mountain is a love story, done in dedication to his wife who had difficulty getting medical care. It’s been compared to how the great emperor Shah Jahan of India built the Taj Mahal as a tomb for his wife, Mumtaz Mahal, from 1632-1643.


I thought that the omission of the wife-element from the narrative was a missed opportunity. The text could have likewise been more tightly-edited for spelling/typo error (as seen in the Author’s Note). Regardless, this is a remarkable story that proves how nothing is impossible with persistence, courage, and determination.

#LitWorld2018GB Update: 18 of 40 – India

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Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Singapore. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she serves as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads or meeting up with her book club friends, she is smashing that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life.

4 comments on “[Nonfiction Wednesday] Love That Has Literally Moved Mountains in “Manjhi Moves A Mountain”

  1. Manjhi was a pleasant surprise, such a great love story.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great review, Myra…it’s a wonderful story and I’m so glad it is now available in picture book form for young readers.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I need to read this book! I’ve heard about it from many readers and just haven’t gotten to it!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Ah, and it’s like the stonecutter story! It’s not one tap that does it but a steady working over time. I should read this.

    Liked by 1 person

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