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Rooted in the universal practice of children’s nighttime rituals, Goodnight Ganesha follows a brother and sister’s endearing bedtime routine with their grandparents in India. Scrumptiously illustrated, this children’s book is as visually engaging as it is intriguing enough to trigger a stream of deep conversations between readers and listeners.
A Relatable Scenario
The loving bond between grandparents and grandchildren is indeed special. Goodnight Ganesha is a beautifully illustrated and delightfully written book celebrating just that. The context of a goofy and adorable nighttime routine the children share with their grandparents couldn’t conjure up a more relatable, warm, and convivial feeling among readers across generations. Unsurprisingly, author Nadia Salomon was inspired by her own children’s bedtime traditions with their grandparents in India when she wrote this book.
Familiar Text-to-Text References
When I first read Goodnight Ganesha to my elementary school boys as part of their bedtime ritual, they were able to almost immediately draw parallels to text in the famed Good Night Moon and Good Night City series – Good Night Seattle, in our case. Thereby, once again, making Goodnight Ganesha instantly relatable and familiar to them. The text is rhyming, making it easy to read and even memorize. It’s minimal on each page, but efficiently and poignantly allows readers to glean the main idea or sentiment.
Alongside the text, the intricate illustrations in Goodnight Ganesha are lavishly complementary. Illustrator Poonam Mistry brings the story to life with dazzling art that incorporates her South Indian roots, Indian folklore, and influences from Kalamkari textile patterns.
Her exquisite depictions provide a compelling visual extension of the written word. For instance, in the book, as part of their bedtime routine, the children’s grandfather reads them stories. The accompanying visual is of a canonical image from the Mahabharata of Arjuna’s chariot with Krishna as his charioteer. To that end, the visual extends the text by offering a tangible insight into the possible types of stories, that include mythological tales, the children listen to before calling it a day. Again, something possibly quite relatable to the reader – both children and adults alike, who’ve probably listened to such stories as part of their bedtime ritual.
A conversation starter
How did peacocks get blue feathers? Who’s Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva? Why is one of Ganesha’s tusks broken? I remember seeing a puja thali with flowers when…
Once again, drawing from personal experience, as we read and flipped through the pages of Goodnight Ganesha, I found that it facilitated several talking points for us. Some questions, other wonders, and some mere comments.
The one that caught my attention was, how did peacocks get blue feathers? Admittedly, I did some internet research to learn more and understand the connection of peacocks and their feathers with the Ramayana and Indra. That snowballed a series of related discussions! The image from the Mahabharata was another example of an image that facilitated some multifaceted conversations related to the rather nuanced and complicated ancient Indian epic.
The children were also interested in knowing about my bedtime traditions with my grandparents. Thinking back, it was evident that cuddling, storytelling, playing, were all a part of the routine. Just like the children in the book, my boys have similar bedtime traditions they share with their grandparents. Something they recounted with relish as we read along!
Grateful for the time we spent with grandparents
Towards the end of the book when the children settle down to snuggle with their grandmother, the text acknowledges their gratitude for being able to spend time with grandparents. This was especially welcoming and heartwarming today, at a time when visiting grandparents in-person has been hard or impossible for so many grandchildren.
So, when I first read Goodnight Ganesha to my elementary school boys as part of their bedtime routine, they were vicariously transported back to December 2019. Pre-pandemic, when they last traveled to Delhi to spend precious time with their grandparents.
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Hear the sound of planes going zhoom, zhoom, zhoom;
See a shy baby gecko scurry to hide;
Smell the air wafting with perfume;
Listen to a serene lullaby;
Savor a sweet, spicy chai and tuck into nana’s sari in the crisp night…
Fresh off the shelf, as of August 31, this ode to bedtime is sure to viscerally bring to life the sights, flavors, sounds, and alluring shades of India to readers across generations. Something, we can all relate to, even as adults!
Nidhi Kirpal Jayadevan is an avid reader and a yoga enthusiast. Her life pre-kids was dedicated to the complex field of Communication Sciences. After choosing to be a full-time mother, reading and playing with her high-energy boys has been a fascinating journey. She constantly sees the world through little eyes, applying simple learnings to deepen life’s meaning for herself and her family.