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A Spiritually Enlightening Online Magazine. March's Theme: "Pets"
Volume 4 Issue 3 ISSN# 1708-3265
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How Ganesh Got His Elephant Head
By Harish Johari and Vatsala Sperling
Illustrated by Pieter Weltevrede
ISBN#: 1-59143-021-6

When I saw this book I had to get it! I used to spend hours with an east Indian friend listening to stories of Indian Folklore, and the tale of how Ganesh, the God of Prosperity, got his elephant head was my absolute favourite. I couldn't wait to share the tale with my daughter. "How Ganesh Got His Elephant Head" is the compassionate tale of a mother's intense love for her child. At the beginning of the book there is a great character/god introduction to help set the plot, making the story very easy to understand.

As one might suspect from the title, there is more beheading than I like to see in a children's story book: but, there are no "beheaded pictures", and I altered the words on the subject slightly for my daughter who is two and a half years old. Speaking of her age, and relative attention span, this is a fairly big book ('lots of words per page' in toddler lingo) and it held her attention through the whole book. The drawings are so vividly coloured and detailed that she is busy taking it all in every time we read it. That's right, every time: Usually when I review a book I read it once; however, I've read this book quite a few times as it is quickly becoming a story time favourite for my girl.

As a mother in this day and age, I like to introduce my daughter to as many cultures as I can. I think understanding other cultures and other points of view will be important to whom she becomes. When I was younger I used to think to myself that my generation would begin a wave of racial understanding, and I look around myself now and I see that we haven't really. I have great hope for my daughter's generation to make great bounds in stopping racism. And I do my part by teaching her love and tolerance and giving her opportunities to discover other cultures and ideas, and this book offers me a great opportunity to do so.

Although this book is meant for children aged 6 - 9, my daughter and I have enjoyed this book immensely. It is a very entertaining story with great introduction to Indian Gods. As I mentioned, the illustrations are beautiful and there is even a Ganesh colouring page included; as well as an explanation of how the illustrator painted the scenes within using a traditional Indian nine-step wash painting technique. I'll definitely be buying more children's books by these authors.

Reviewed by
Amanda Bugeaud

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