With increasing numbers of young children of Indian parentage born and brought up outside India, there is a ready market for well written stories of Indian gods. Of all these, the story of Ganesha and his diverse exploits have proved to be the most popular. Ganesha’s Sweet Tooth written and illustrated by Emily Haynes and Sanjay Patel and published by Tota Books, New Delhi, draws in all the well known episodes in Ganesha’s life and attempts to present it in one composite story. It also presents Ganesha and his doings for an international audience by starting with an introduction: “Ganesha is a Hindu god. He’s very important and powerful. And a tad chubby. But when he was a kid, he was just like any other kid…except that he had an elephant’s head….”
The illustrations are the cream de resistance of the book. Geometrical shapes, Indian motifs both old and new (coconuts, mangoes, temple bells as well as a game of cricket) are plentiful. Each page is splashed with a myriad of colors, both bright and muted. The paper used is thick and smooth- clearly made to last.
The story combines many well known episodes in Ganesha’s life and brings it together into one narrative. It works……but only just! The description of the laddoo as being ‘super jumbo’ is likely to be more familiar to American audiences where everything comes in super large sizes. When Ganesha breaks his tooth on the laddoo how is it that Mr Mouse happily eats them with no harm done? These are only a few mismatches that come to mind but when the reader opens the two page foldout with all the characters of the Mahabharata beautifully depicted, all is forgiven! The author’s note seeks to clarify the retelling. “Some elements and scenes…are not found in Hindu mythology….we changed certain plot points to develop an original and we hope, fun picture book. Our wish is that readers will…be inspired to learn even more about …stories of Hindu mythology.” That is a good reason to read this attractively produced book!
By Usha Mukunda
Author: Emily Haynes
Illustrator: Sanjay Patel
Tota Books, New Delhi, 2014
Subject Category: Mythology/Humour