Ganesha's Sweet Tooth

Overview

The bold, bright colors of India leap right off the page in this fresh and funny picture book retelling (with a twist) of how Ganesha came to help write the epic poem of Hindu literature, the Mahabharata. Ganesha is just like any other kid, except that he has the head of an elephant and rides around on a magical mouse. And he loves sweets, especially the traditional dessert laddoo. But when Ganesha insists on biting into a super jumbo jawbreaker laddoo, his tusk breaks off! Ganesha is terribly upset, but with the...
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Overview

The bold, bright colors of India leap right off the page in this fresh and funny picture book retelling (with a twist) of how Ganesha came to help write the epic poem of Hindu literature, the Mahabharata. Ganesha is just like any other kid, except that he has the head of an elephant and rides around on a magical mouse. And he loves sweets, especially the traditional dessert laddoo. But when Ganesha insists on biting into a super jumbo jawbreaker laddoo, his tusk breaks off! Ganesha is terribly upset, but with the help of the wise poet Vyasa, and his friend Mr. Mouse, he learns that what seems broken can actually be quite useful after all. With vibrant, graphic illustrations, expressive characters, and offbeat humor, this is a wonderfully inventive rendition of a classic tale.
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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review
…zesty and original…
—Pamela Paul
Publishers Weekly
“Ganesha is a Hindu god. He’s very important and powerful. And a tad chubby,” begins this stylish take on a classic tale from Indian mythology. Patel’s artwork has a candy-colored palette that befits the subject matter, and he merges traditional Hindu iconography with decidedly contemporary influences: the book’s eye-popping jewel tones, dots, and geometric patterns nod to the graphic design work of Saul Bass and Maurice Binder’s title sequences for films like Charade and Dr. No. As a young god, Ganesha enjoys dancing, playing cricket, skipping rope, and—most of all—sweets. When Ganesha spies a tempting “super jumbo jawbreaker laddoo,” his best friend, Mr. Mouse, warns him that it will surely break his tusk. “But I’m a god,” Ganesha replies. “I’m invincible.” Sure enough, his tusk breaks, leading to an encounter with the poet Vyasa, who persuades Ganesha to write the 100,000-verse long Mahabharata using his tusk as a pen. Though the story’s ending fizzles, Patel and Hynes have created a fresh and comedic introduction to a Hindu legend, with a winning combination of both eye candy and actual candy. Ages 4–8. Agent: Tina Wexler, ICM. (Oct.)
From the Publisher
"A classic Hindu tale gets an artful interpretation in this piece of eye candy" - Daily Candy Kids

"Zesty and original... Pink elephants haven't looked this good since 'Dumbo'" - The New York Times

"Two traditional events in the life of the Hindu god Ganesha are imaginatively recast" - School Library Journal

"The wordless two-page spreads retelling the ancient epic Sanskrit poem, Mahabharata is a masterpiece." - Lisa Von Drasek, Early Word

"A fresh and comedic introduction to a Hindu legend, with a winning combination of both eye candy and actual candy." - Publishers Weekly

"A feast for the eyes... So sweet we almost want to pop it in our mouths." - EntertainmentWeekly.com

"A confectioner's palette... strong shapes and a mix of modern objects with traditional designs add to the fun." - Kirkus Reviews

Children's Literature - Uma Krishnaswami
The tale of Ganesha, the elephant-headed god, is a beloved one in Hindu mythology. Here is a creative picture book twist on the story that renders its principal character childlike, quirky, and a touch updated. All of which makes for interesting intersections of text and illustration. On one spread, for example, framed images depict a swinging, bouncing, jump-rope-skipping, cricket-playing Ganesha. The text boxed in by the pictures (verso) reads simply, "But when he was a kid, he was just like any other kid..." yet image and text on the facing page point to a host of unusual qualities that raise the magical stakes and invite a page turn. A few Ganesha myths are fused into one here, with some invented transitions that will not be found in any traditional variants. A sweetmeat ("jawbreaker" candy) breaks the titular tooth. In contrast, in the classic Hindu story, the breaking of the tusk is a gesture of both sacrifice and keeping one's word in a bargain. The act of flinging the tusk at the moon is taken from what is usually a pourquoi tale on the etiology of the moon's phases. Here it simply transitions us into a scene with the sage Vyasa, a player in yet another mythic story. Ganesha then agrees to be the scribe who writes down the Hindu epic, The Mahabharata, as fast as Vyasa can recite it. As the author's note explains, however, Ganesha's Sweet Tooth is not intended to be a retelling. Rather, it is an original, interpretive, and distilled reimagining of a well-known character from one of the world's rich and vital religious and narrative traditions.
School Library Journal
Gr 1–3—Two traditional events in the life of the Hindu god Ganesha are imaginatively recast as though happening during his childhood: "he was just like every other kid except that he had an elephant's head and cruised around on a magical mouse collecting fruit, rice, sweets, and other gifts from the temples in his neighborhood." Drawn in Adobe Illustrator, comical Ganesha is a pink elephant/boy, his large head dominated by enormous round eyes. His love of sweets becomes his undoing when he ignores Mr. Mouse's advice and bites down on a super jumbo jawbreaker, breaking off one of his small tusks. As in the myth, Ganesha laments the loss of his tusk, but soon puts it to good use as a writing implement when he encounters the poet Vyasa, who is looking for Ganesha to be his scribe. Young Ganesha is soon hard at work writing one hundred thousand verses of the Mahabharata-"the great epic of Hindu literature." There's a pleasant color palette of pink, aquamarine, gold, cream, and black, and busy patterns of swirling graphic elements add energy to the boldly designed pages. The cheerful elephant/boy and his mouse and the sweet tooth episode all suggest a far younger audience than seems likely to follow the whole second half of the story. Libraries owning Amy Novesky's more richly rendered Elephant Prince: The Story of Ganesha (Mandala, 2004) and others may like to add this one. Storytellers wishing to introduce the intriguing figure of Ganesha will be best served by Uma Krishnaswami's The Broken Tusk (Linnet Bks., 1996).—Margaret Bush, Simmons College, Boston
Kirkus Reviews
Emphasizing Ganesha's playfulness, this story is a takeoff on one legend about the elephant-headed Hindu god. Ganesha, god of beginnings, is also a mischievous boy. Together with his sidekick, Mr. Mouse, he loves to eat candy. When he bites into "THE SUPER JUMBO JAWBREAKER LADDOO!," he breaks his tusk. He is so angry that he throws his tusk to the moon, but he accidentally hits an old man. Not just any old man, but Vyasa, the poet who has created the Mahabharata, the Sanskrit epic. In this tale, Vyasa suggests that Ganesha be his scribe and use his tusk as a pen. In the traditional story, Ganesha starts to write with a pen, and when it breaks, he uses his tusk as his writing implement. Here, he starts right off with his tusk. The unusual conditions of the legend (that Vyasa never stop reciting the poem and that Ganesha must understand the meaning of the epic) are here, but they are presented in an unusual double-page spread in which Mr. Mouse, as lawyer, sets up a contract. The illustrator is a Pixar animator, and the digital illustrations employ a confectioner's palette of hot pink and greenish blue, sometimes against dark backgrounds. Strong shapes and a mix of modern objects (Ganesha tries to use a stapler and tape dispenser to re-attach his tusk) with traditional designs add to the fun. A sugarcoated but hardly saccharine introduction to one Hindu myth. (Picture book. 5-8)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781452103624
  • Publisher: Chronicle Books LLC
  • Publication date: 9/19/2012
  • Pages: 40
  • Sales rank: 187,797
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 10.20 (w) x 9.70 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Sanjay Patel is an animator and storyboard artist for Pixar Animation Studios. His modern interpretations of Hindu epics have been exhibited at the San Francisco Asian Art Museum. He lives in Oakland, California.

Emily Haynes is an editor by day and a children's writer by night. She lives in Oakland, California.

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