Goodnight Ganesha by Nadia Salomon, illustrated by Poonam Mistry. Philomel Books, Penguin Random House, 2021. 9780593203613
Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4
Format: Hardcover picture book
What did you like about the book? Ornate illustrations that recall Indian mandalas and a singsong homage to Goodnight Moon make this bedtime story a standout. A boy and girl are visiting their grandparents in India (Nana and Tata) and follow a familiar bedtime ritual that includes teeth brushing, listening to stories, and getting kissed goodnight. Each two-page spread features a 4 line monorhyme that describes the action (rhyming read-bed-instead-said in one example) followed by a three line sign-off for the night that recalls Margaret Wise Brown: “Goodnight Tata, Goodnight bed. Goodnight, pillow and words not said.” Solomon includes many cultural touch points here, including statues of Brahma, Shiva & Vishnu, a dim puja room, and a cup of hot chai. The gorgeous illustrations done in pen and ink feature intricate patterns mostly in russet browns and warm reds and golds, although a shimmery blue peacock is a definite stand-out. The patterns can be found not only in Nana’s sari and window curtains, but also on characters’ cheeks and in figures the children imagine in their bedtime tales. A glossary at the back of the book provides English translations of all the Hindi words in the story while a note from the author tells about her own childhood experiences visiting her grandparents in India.
Anything you didn’t like about it? The book seems like it should have been bigger to accommodate the lovely illustrations. Occasionally the gutter awkwardly bisects Mistry’s elaborate artwork. Also, the type is absurdly small, especially for a book that presumably will appeal to grandparents!
To whom would you recommend this book? This sweet look at bedtime in a grandparents’ house will appeal to readers of all cultural backgrounds.
Who should buy this book? Public libraries
Where would you shelve it? Picture books
Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? If you serve an East Asian population and would like to grow your offerings, I would definitely recommend reading it.
Reviewer: Susan Harari, Keefe Library, Boston Latin School, Boston, MA
Date of review: January 3, 2022